Beirut blast protesters say they're unfair target

STORY: Protesters gathered outside this Beirut police station say Lebanon is applying the law unequally.

A dozen people were called in for questioning amid accusations of rioting after last week's protests over the city’s massive port explosion in 2020.

But demonstrators - who count victims’ relatives among them - want to know: what about senior officials, who have still not been taken to task for the blast?

“This corrupt state is demanding victims’ relatives come in for questioning,” said this mother of a victim. “Where are those who blew up Beirut port?”

The blast devastated Lebanon’s capital and killed 220 people.

But only minor players have been brought in by authorities so far, with the work of an investigating judge paralyzed by political elites in the country’s fractured sectarian system.

This is William Noun - a prominent campaigner who was among those called for questioning on Monday.

He lost his brother in the blast.

"We will appear before the courts, we demand the law to be applied. We are not above the law, we are under the law, but on the condition that everyone is under the law.”

Lebanese media broadcast footage of Noun at the protest saying protesters had prepared "men, rioters, dynamite and rocks" if the judiciary appointed an additional investigator to the probe, a move families fear was designed to hobble it further.

A judicial source said Noun was detained over "threats to the judiciary."

For many Lebanese, the failure of the probe into the blast reflects the impunity of the elites that have overseen decades of corrupt rule that led to the country’s financial collapse in 2019.

The explosion was caused by hundreds of tonnes of chemicals kept in poor conditions for years at the port.

Judicial sources say an extra judge would be able to release detainees, including the port’s former customs chief.

Families fear those behind the blast could roam free - as hope fades fast for justice.