Lebanese politician in Beirut blast investigation under fire over daughter’s wedding

Lebanese politician in Beirut blast investigation under fire over daughter’s wedding
Youssef Fenianos has been charged over the storage of the chemical that caused the Beirut explosion. (AFP)
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Updated 21 August 2021

Lebanese politician in Beirut blast investigation under fire over daughter’s wedding

Lebanese politician in Beirut blast investigation under fire over daughter’s wedding
  • Youssef Fenianos requested anti-riot units in case family event targeted by protesters
  • Former minister has been charged over the storage of the ammonium nitrate that blew up in August last year

BEIRUT: A Lebanese former minister wanted for questioning over his alleged involvement in the August 2020 Beirut blast has sparked anger for requesting anti-riot police to guard his daughter’s wedding.  

A leaked Internal Security Forces’ (ISF) document showed Youssef Fenianos had asked for the security presence at the church where his daughter gets married on Saturday in case of political demonstrations.

The document, published by VDL (Voice of Lebanon) news website, said the ISF agreed to dispatch two anti-riot units to Fenianos’s hometown of Ehden in northern Lebanon.  

The request provoked fury in Lebanon because Fenianos is being investigated over the explosion last year that killed more than 200 people. There is also widespread anger at the ruling class, which is seen as corrupt and responsible for the country’s economic collapse.

Lebanon is now crippled by widespread power black outs and fuel shortages.

Fenianos was accused on social media of disrespecting the blast victims’ families and using his political influence to protect the wedding from protests.

The massive explosion took place when 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate was detonated by a fire at Beirut Port. The chemical had been stored at the site for more than seven years without proper safety precautions.

Fenianos, a former public works and transportation minister, was one of three MPs and former ministers charged by the blast’s investigating judge Tarek Bitar.

The charges include “negligence” and “possible intent to murder” because they were aware of the ammonium nitrate “and did not take measures to spare the country the risks of an explosion.”

Local media reported that a relative of Fenianos posted on Facebook an alleged death threat addressed to one of the victim’s relatives who was expected to protest at the wedding.

The post is believed to have been addressed to William Noon, whose firefighter brother died in the Beirut Blast.

Commenting over the incident, famous Lebanese actress and producer, Carine Rizcallah said when the person in charge becomes afraid of his people and asks for protection from the people “then he’s finished politically and that’s the case of most Lebanese politicians.”

Popular TV presenter Nabila Awad posted the security document on her twitter and commented “Shameless! Shameless and licentious!”

Fenianos was scheduled for questioning by judge Bitar on Friday but police said they had been unable to reach him at his office or residence due to blocked roads and could not deliver the subpoena due to fuel shortages.

Al Janoubia news said Bitar has rescheduled a session to question Fenianos.

A civil society activist told Arab News that the demonstration at the wedding was discussed within four to five WhatsApp groups used by protesters.

“The aim was to deliver a message to Fenianos that nobody is above the law and he cannot carry on with his life as if nothing has happened … let him appear before the investigating judge, testify and clear his name,” the activist, who asked not to be named, said.   

The ISF said the decision to dispatch anti-riot units to the wedding was taken to prevent “public disorder and unruly behavior.”

“Following a chain of social media posts about some activists’ intent to demonstrate during the celebration, which could eventually lead to acts of public disorder, ISF decided as part of its mission and duty to maintain public order to dispatch anti-riot units,” the statement said.  

An ISF senior officer, who requested anonymity, confirmed to Arab News that the decision was a “standard procedure that ISF implements in similar situations and incidents and there’s nothing political behind it.”

The incident is the latest in which politicians’ extravagant family wedding plans have sparked public anger as the country continues towards meltdown.

 Last month, the luxurious wedding of the daughter of former Hezbollah MP Nawwar Al-Sahili circulated online, stirring dismay as many people have seen the life savings evaporate in the crisis.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Crew of Lebanese Army boat rescued after vessel catches fire during security operation

Crew of Lebanese Army boat rescued after vessel catches fire during security operation
Updated 7 sec ago

Crew of Lebanese Army boat rescued after vessel catches fire during security operation

Crew of Lebanese Army boat rescued after vessel catches fire during security operation
  • Navy boats and Lebanese Civil Defense teams responded to assist the stricken vessel

BEIRUT: The crew of a Lebanese Army speed cruiser that was taking part in a security operation off Al-Saadiyat coast on Thursday had to be rescued after their vessel caught fire, according to a statement by the army.
Other navy boats and Lebanese Civil Defense teams responded to assist the stricken vessel and help put out the fire. No casualties were reported.


UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports

UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports
Updated 11 August 2022

UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports

UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports
  • Part of efforts to use technology in reinforcing identification of personal identity and eliminating forgery

DUBAI: The UAE will issue a new generation of Emirati passports from Sept. 1, authorities said on Thursday.

The Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security (ICP) said the new passports, equipped with the latest technologies, will have advanced security features.

 

 

The new-generation passports are part of efforts to use technology in reinforcing identification of personal identity and eliminating forgery or fraud, according to Ali Muhammad Al-Shamsi, Chairman of ICP, in a report from state news agency WAM.

The complex security specifications feature a polycarbonate introduction page, laser technologies and “three-dimensional tangible elements.”

Authorities said holders of the current passports can still use their travel document until expiry.


Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam

Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam
Updated 11 August 2022

Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam

Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam
  • Cairo, Khartoum fear it will reduce their share of Nile waters
  • Egypt says it will take all necessary measures to protect national security

CAIRO: In a letter to the UN Security Council, Egypt has warned of cracks in the concrete facade of the sub-dam linked to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Cairo said this is particularly alarming due to Ethiopia’s failure to comply with its duty to conduct the required environmental and socioeconomic impact studies.

The letter, sent to the UNSC president, said Egypt’s Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel-Aty had received a message about Ethiopia’s intention to unilaterally resume filling the GERD during the current rainy season.

Abdel-Aty said Ethiopia’s decision comes in the absence of an agreement between it and Egypt and Sudan on the rules governing the filling and operation of the dam, constituting a violation of the 2015 Declaration of Principles signed by the three countries.

He stressed that Cairo holds Ethiopia fully responsible for any significant harm that may be caused to Egypt by these repeated violations.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said the country reserves its right guaranteed in the UN Charter to take all necessary measures to ensure and protect its national security, including against any harm that Ethiopia’s unilateral measures may cause.

The GERD has raised tensions between Ethiopia on one hand and Egypt and Sudan on the other.

The latter two countries are demanding a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam, which they fear will reduce their share of the Nile’s waters.

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UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey

UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey
Updated 11 August 2022

UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey

UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey
  • 4-year-old George Jack Temperley-Wells visited Antalya with his mother to see his father

LONDON: Police in the UK have asked for help to locate a 4-year-old boy who is thought to be missing after traveling to Turkey.

George Jack Temperley-Wells is believed to have gone to visit his father Scott Nigel Wells in the city of Antalya on June 29 with his mother Brogan Elizabeth Temperley. Antalya is a popular summer holiday destination for Britons.

Durham Police said anyone in contact with Temperley should notify authorities in Turkey or the UK immediately with information on her whereabouts, adding that they have serious concerns for the welfare of her son.

The police said the boy has red hair, a pale complexion and dark eyes, while his mother is described as being slim with long dark hair and dark eyes.

The force released two images of the trio dining in the area at a restaurant recently, where they were seen smiling together.

People in Turkey with information should visit their nearest police station or call 112/115. Anyone in the UK with information should contact Durham Constabulary on 101, and quote the incident number 325 for June 30.


UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs

UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs
Updated 11 August 2022

UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs

UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs
  • Italian Embassy: Project will improve housing for vulnerable people affected by port blast

LONDON: The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and the UN Program for Human Settlements have signed an agreement in Beirut to finance the rehabilitation of the public park of the Mar Mikhael train station in the Lebanese capital.

The program will also restore some of the housing damaged by the Beirut port explosion on Aug. 4, 2020.

The Italian Embassy in Beirut reported the signing, hosting a ceremony at the Italian diplomatic headquarters in Baabda. It was attended by Italian Ambassador to Lebanon Nicoletta Bombardiere.

The project, titled “Ensuring safe public spaces and adequate housing for all within the city of Beirut,” is being funded by the agency and will be implemented by the UN program alongside Lebanese authorities.

The embassy said the project will improve “housing conditions for vulnerable populations affected by the explosion of the port of Beirut, in particular in the vicinity of the old Mar Mikhael railway station.”

It added that the project intends to increase “access to safe and inclusive public spaces within the railway station, also revitalizing the urban fabric of the city.”

Bombardiere said: “This project will allow the citizens of Beirut to rediscover the old Mar Mikhael railway station and its historical relevance.

“At the same time, we continue our commitment to respond to basic needs, such as social housing, restoring the cultural and social fabric of the districts most affected.”