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Interpol issues notices over Beirut blast ship: judicial source

Interpol has issued red notices for three individuals linked to a shipment of ammonium nitrate that exploded at Beirut's port in August, a Lebanese judicial source said Tuesday.

The notices, requested by judge Ghassan Khoury, are for the owner and captain of the vessel that transported the fertiliser, the source said, along with a Portuguese businessman believed to have ordered it.

"Interpol has issued the international red notices and has circulated them to member states through the red notice list," the source told AFP.

A red notice, according to Interpol's website, is "a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action."

Interpol was not immediately available for comment.

The Rhosus, a Moldovan-flagged cargo ship sailing from Georgia and bound for Mozambique, is widely understood to have brought the fertiliser to Beirut in 2013.

The explosion on August 4 last year killed more than 200 people, injured thousands and ravaged swathes of the Lebanese capital.

Boris Prokoshev, a Russian national who has been widely named as the ship's captain, was among the subjects of the Interpol notices, the judicial source said.

So was Igor Grechushkin, a Russian who is described in the notice as the owner of the vessel, the source added.

Cypriot police in August questioned Grechushkin over the case.

The Portuguese owner of the ammonium nitrate shipment was identified as Jose Moreira, the source said.

Lebanese state media reported the notices but did not identify the individuals.

After it arrived in Lebanon, the Rhosus faced "technical problems", and security officials said it was impounded after a Lebanese company filed a lawsuit against its owner.

Port authorities unloaded the ammonium nitrate and stored it in a run-down port warehouse with cracks in its walls, according to officials.

The Rhosus sank in Beirut port in 2018.

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 Manoli has denied.

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

It has so far arrested at least 25 suspects as part of the investigation, including top port and customs officials.

Judge Fadi Sawan, who is leading the probe, charged outgoing premier Hassan Diab and three former ministers over the port blast last month, in the first set of indictments against politicians.

He has since been forced to pause his probe after two of the charged suspects filed a judicial request to have him replaced.

Sawan will likely resume investigations next month after a recently announced coronavirus lockdown is lifted, the judicial source said.

Topics: Interpol , Beirut , Lebanon , Explosion , Ghassan Khoury
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