Victims of Beirut Explosion Receive Rare Victory Under British Rule

A British court has ruled the liability of a London-based company that delivered explosive ammonium nitrate to the port of Beirut against victims of a devastating explosion in 2020, the Beirut Bar Association said on Thursday.

On August 4 of that year, hundreds of tons of the chemical commonly used in fertilizers exploded, killing more than 200 people, injuring more than 6,000 and damaging much of Beirut.

The families of the victims of the explosion see the latest development as a small step towards justice and against the political interference that hinders the investigating judge who has been conducting an investigation for more than two years in Lebanon.

The sentence handed down in London is an outstanding judicial success for the families of the victims, some of whom have called for an unimpeded national investigation. Some have chosen to sue overseas.

A London-registered chemicals trading company, Savaro Limited, is suspected of leasing the shipment of ammonium nitrate in 2013 that ended up in Beirut.

The documents show that a handful of senior political, judicial and security officials had known about the material in the port for years but took no decisive action to get rid of it.

The Beirut Bar Association, together with 3 families of the victims, filed a lawsuit against Savaro Ltd. over a year ago.

The ruling by London’s High Court of Justice now moves the proceedings into the “compensation phase” of the case that determines the company’s compensation to the families, Camille Abu Suleiman, one of the lawyers involved in the case, told The Associated on Press.

Abu Suleiman, who is also the former Lebanese labor minister, added, “It is the first time that a real ruling on this issue has been handed down by reputable courts. It will certainly open the door for potential justice in overseas courts.” .

Marianna Vodolyan, whose sister Gaia died in the blast, called the verdict a “very important step”. “With this ruling, we can try to get to more important details. It gives us some hope,” she said.