Media reports say Interpol has issued “red notices” for two Russian men and a Portuguese individual linked to a shipment of ammonium nitrate that exploded at the port in Beirut last summer.
The explosive material used in fertilizers had been shipped to the Lebanese capital and stored at the port for six years until it exploded on August 4, devastating large parts of the Lebanese capital, killing more than 200 people, and injuring thousands of others.
The state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported on January 13 that the “red notices” were for the owner and captain of the Rhosus, the ship that carried the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate to Lebanon, and a Portuguese nitrate trader who visited the port’s warehouse in Beirut in 2014 where the material was stored.
A “red notice” is a request made through Interpol for authorities in other countries to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition.
The notices against the three men had been requested by Lebanon’s state prosecutor, Ghassan Khoury, NNA reported.
The agency did not give their names but other media identified them as the vessel’s former captain Boris Prokoshev, Igor Grechushkin, the owner of the ship, and the owner of the ammonium nitrate shipment, identified as Jorge Moreira.
“I have received no papers yet; it is unpleasant news, of course, and I do not know what to do right now,” Prokoshev told TASS on January 13. “I will observe the development of the situation and will defend myself on my own: I do not have money for lawyers, of course, I live on my pension. I do not consider myself guilty.”
The Rhosus, a Moldovan-flagged cargo ship sailing from the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi and bound for Mozambique, is believed to have brought the fertilizer to Beirut in 2013.
Officials said the ship faced “technical problems” there and was impounded after a Lebanese company filed a lawsuit against its owner.
Port authorities unloaded the ammonium nitrate and stored it in a port warehouse.
At least 25 suspects, most of them port and customs officials, have been arrested since the blast.
Last month, a Lebanese judge filed charges against Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab and three former ministers, accusing them of negligence leading to deaths.