The lead investigative judge into the port blast, Tarek Bitar, on Thursday issued a subpoena ordering security forces to bring caretaker PM Hassan Diab to an interrogation session on September 20.
Bitar’s decision came after Diab failed to appear before him today, Thursday, the National News Agency said.
Bitar ordered security forces to bring Diab to the main courthouse in Beirut 24 hours before the new date of September 20, a judicial source said.
Diab had sent Bitar a memo through the Premiership’s General-Secretariat informing him of his “lack of jurisdiction to interrogate the resigned prime minister.”
The memo added that the file is still “in the hands of parliament, which has not yet resolved the issue of the charges against the deputies and Diab, the lifting of immunities, and the referral of the file to the Higher Council for the Trial of Presidents and Ministers.”
Diab had also declined to be interrogated last year by Bitar’s predecessor, Fadi Sawwan. Bitar was named to lead the investigation in February after Sawwan was removed following legal challenges by former ministers he had accused of negligence that led to the blast.
Diab, who resigned following the explosion, said in an interview last year that he was being singled out and charged while others knew more.
Sawwan had issued charges of negligence against Diab and three former ministers in December.
Bitar picked up where Sawan left off by summoning Diab and demanding parliament lift the immunity of ex-finance minister Ali Hasan Khalil, former public works minister Ghazi Zoaiter and ex-interior minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq.
Bitar has also asked for permission to investigate State Security chief Tony Saliba and the head of the General Security agency, Abbas Ibrahim.
He also brought charges against several former high-ranking military officials, including ex-army chief Jean Qahwaji, and several judges.
Documents and witness testimony suggest they were “all aware of the ammonium nitrate shipment and its dangers,” according to a judicial source who spoke to the AFP news agency.