Lebanon parliament ready to lift immunity for Beirut blast probe


FILE PHOTO: A woman walks on rubble at the site of last year's Beirut port blast, in Beirut, Lebanon July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's influential parliament speaker Nabih Berri said on Thursday the legislature was ready to lift the immunity of its members in order allow for questioning over last year's port blast in the capital Beirut.

The massive explosion last August killed over 200 people, injured thousands and destroyed large parts of the city. Nearly a year later, however, no top officials have been questioned over the disaster, angering many Lebanese.

"The priority of parliament was and will continue to be complete cooperation with the judiciary," Berri said in a statement after a meeting with the Future Movement, parliament's main Sunni bloc.

Veteran Sunni politician Saad al-Hariri, who heads the party, had called for lawmakers' immunity to be lifted earlier this week by suspending all constitutional and legal regulations that allow for it.

Berri did not say when immunity would be lifted or how.

A probe into the port blast led by judge Tarek Bitar has been hindered over the past month as requests sent parliament and the government to lift immunity and enable questioning of several top officials were either declined or stalled.

(Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Joe Bavier)

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