Wanted Portuguese man arrested in Chile over Beirut port explosion

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By AFP  with Euronews
Rubble and debris near the silo that was destroyed by the massive explosion in Beirut's port.
Rubble and debris near the silo that was destroyed by the massive explosion in Beirut’s port.   –   Copyright  AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File

A Portuguese man wanted in connection with the Beirut port explosion has been arrested by police in Chile.

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The man had been wanted by Interpol and was detained after landing at Santiago airport on a flight from Spain.

He is accused of bringing “explosive elements” into Lebanon in connection with the deadly explosion in Beirut’s port in August 2020.

The blast — which killed at least 218 people — was caused by a fire in a warehouse where hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate had been stored for years “without precautionary measures”.

Lebanese authorities have been accused by NGOs and victims’ relatives of stalling the investigation to avoid charges.

In January 2021, a judicial source told AFP that “red notices” had been issued against three people in connection with the explosion.

This reportedly included the owner and captain of the “Rhosus” ship that had brought the ammonium nitrate to Beirut, as well as a Portuguese businessman who ordered the shipment.

Around 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was brought to the Lebanese capital in November 2013 on a Moldovan-flagged ship bound for Mozambique from Georgia.

Port authorities had stored it in a dilapidated warehouse, while the ship eventually sank in 2018.