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Lebanon Seeks Arrest of 2 Russians Linked to Beirut Port Explosion – Reports

The Aug. 4 blast at the Beirut port killed more than 190 people and wounded thousands more. Hassan Ammar / AP / TASS

Lebanon has issued arrest warrants in absentia for two Russian nationals as part of an investigation into the explosion that devastated Beirut two months ago, the state-owned National News Agency (NNA) reported Thursday.

Businessman Igor Grechushkin was reported to have owned the ship that had brought fertilizer that caused the Aug. 4 blast at the Beirut port, which killed more than 190 people and wounded thousands more. Boris Prokoshev was said to have been the captain of the Moldova-flagged ship that had carried nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate before Lebanese authorities confiscated the explosive fertilizer in 2014.

According to NNA, a judge transferred two arrest warrants to prosecutors requesting Interpol to issue an international warrant for the Russian nationals’ arrest.

The agency reported that a Lebanese judicial and security delegation had visited Cyprus, where Grechushkin resides, and that Cypriot authorities had previously taken his testimony in coordination with Lebanon. 

AFP reported that Cypriot police questioned Grechushkin in August, but an investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project named the ship's ultimate owner as Charalambos Manoli, a Cypriot shipping magnate — a claim denied by Manoli.  

Lebanon has rejected an international investigation into the country's worst peace-time disaster, but its probe is being aided by foreign experts, including from the FBI and France.

It has so far arrested 25 people as part of the ongoing probe, including top port and customs officials.

AFP contributed reporting.

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