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Court ruling delivers rare victory for Beirut port blast victims

THE High Court has ruled against a London-based firm linked to the Beirut blast in a rare victory for victims of the 2020 disaster. 

More than 200 people were killed and 6,000 injured when hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored at Beirut’s port detonated, destroying huge swathes of Lebanon’s capital city. 

The chemical was suspected to have been delivered to the port by British-registered chemical trading firm, Savaro Ltd.

The Beirut Bar Association, which announced the ruling on Thursday, launched the legal action against the firm over a year ago alongside the families of three of the victims.

The High Court ruled that Savaro Ltd is liable to the victims of the disaster and will be required to pay damages.

One of the lawyers involved in the case, Camille Abousleiman, who is also a former Lebanese labour minister, said the ruling marked the “first time there is an actual judgement on this matter in reputable courts.”

He said that the case “certainly will open the door for potential justice in courts overseas.”

Mr Abousleiman has argued that the owner of the cargo also shares blame for the disaster for failing to ensure it was safely stored.

To date, no senior official in Lebanon has been held accountable for the blast, with claims of political obstruction of the country’s judge-led investigation. This has led to some victims lodging claims abroad.

In 2021, soon after the claim was lodged, British authorities blocked Savaro Ltd’s attempts to dissolve the company.

Its owners are still unknown, despite the High Court ordering the company to reveal this information in June 2022. 

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