Owner of Ammonium Nitrate That Blasted Beirut is Ukrainian

Published September 15th, 2021 - 08:56 GMT
Beirut after the 2020 blast
Volodymyr Verbonol has been found to be the owner of the shipment that caused grave damage to the Lebanese capital. (Shutterstock: @Ali Chehade)

13 months after the huge explosion that rocked Beirut, killed 218 people and injured thousands of others, investigations are still underway in an attempt to reveal the truth behind the tragic August 4, 2020.

While legal investigations into the Beirut blast continue to face major challenges, another examination by the
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project OCCRP
may have named the owner of the ammonium nitrate shipment that has been stored in the city's port since 2014 until the enormous explosion took place in 2020.

According to OCCRP, Ukrainian businessman Volodymyr Verbonol owns the estimated 2,750-ton chemicals, only 20% of which blew up in Beirut last year. The ammonium nitrate shipment was chartered by a London-registered company called Savaro Ltd and was delivered to the Lebanese port aboard MV Rhosus.

The investigation also finds out that the shipment was meant to be sent from Georgia in eastern Europe to a factory in Mozambique, but reasons that are yet to be investigated had the shipment unloaded in Beirut.

These findings come at a time a growing number of Lebanese people are demanding an impartial and transparent investigation into the blast, especially after raising doubts about the country's judicial system to deliver justice to survivors and families of 218 victims who died as a result of the explosion.

Last February, a Lebanese judge was removed from the court that carries out investigations, sparking questions over the court's decision and whether or not it is connected to the fact that he had summoned two former officials into the case.

Moreover, online commentators in Lebanon have been reporting unverified news suggesting that the former Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who had just left his position last Friday, had already left to the US "in an attempt to avoid questions over his responsibility" in the incident, especially that he holds the Canadian citizenship.

In an official statement released this morning by Human Rights Watch, the group highlighted the increasing public demand that the UN becomes part of the ongoing investigations, to ensure justice for the Lebanese people.

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