Interpol issues red notice for arrest of Beirut blast ship captain, owner

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Interpol issued three international arrest notices yesterday for the captain and owner of the ship that caused the Beirut blast on 4 August, Associated Press (AP) reported.

The MH Rhosus carried 2,750 tonnes of highly explosive ammonium nitrate into Beirut in 2013, nearly seven years before the substance exploded in August 2020.

The massive blast left more than 200 dead, thousands more injured, and 300,000 homeless.

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The Interpol red notices are for two Russians, the captain of the ship and the businessman residing in Cyprus who purchased the vessel in 2012, Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) reported.

The third arrest warrant was issued for a Portuguese nitrate trader who visited the warehouse where the substance was unsafely stored in 2014.

The names of the three suspects were not published by Interpol.

However, local media identified the trio as Boris Prokoshev, the ship’s former captain, Igor Grechushkin, the vessel’s owner, and Jorge Manuel Mirra Neto Moreira, the Portuguese nitrate trader.

Grechuskin was questioned in Cyprus by a team of Lebanese investigators in September, according to Agence France Presse (AFP).

READ: Lebanon currency dollar peg ‘finished’: central bank governor

Ghassan Khoury, Lebanon’s state prosecutor, requested Interpol arrest warrants for the owner and captain of the ship in October.

A red notice is a request for law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest the named person in preparation for extradition or legal action.

Though it is commonly seen as the closest thing to an international arrest warrant, an Interpol arrest warrant does not require authorities to arrest the subject.

Lebanon will rise up from its ashes - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Lebanon will rise up from its ashes – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Nearly 30 officials, most of them Lebanese port and customs authorities, have been arrested in a domestic probe since the blast five months ago.

The probe was paused last month after two former ministers charged with criminal negligence filed a motion challenging investigating judge Fadi Sawwan’s decision to summon them for questioning.

Lebanon’s Court of Cassation on Monday ruled Sawwan can question officials and civil servants over their involvement in the blast, allowing the probe to resume.

Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab was charged with criminal negligence leading to the deaths of hundreds of people in the probe.

Members of the public hope the investigation, which politicians promised in August would take only five days, will provide accountability for the explosion.

READ: Outrage after Lebanon health minister claims port blast deaths were ‘fate’

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