Beirut blast suspect in Spanish court after Chile police swoop

Beirut blast suspect in Spanish court after Chile police swoop
The suspect is one of four people named in Interpol red alerts issued in connection with the Beirut port explosion since December 2021.
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George Moreira is accused of bringing "explosive elements" into Lebanon [Getty]

A Portuguese man suspected of involvement in the 2020 Beirut port blast has been released on bail by Spain's national court on Thursday after his arrest and deportation from Santiago, Chile. 

Chilean police said they arrested the man, wanted by Interpol over the blast in Lebanon that killed over 200 people, in a statement on Wednesday.

The Portuguese national, named by Madrid authorities as George Moreira, arrived in Santiago on a flight from Spain on Wednesday. 

He was then put on a plane back to Madrid in coordination with Interpol, according to the police statement.

Moreira is wanted for allegedly having brought "explosive elements" into Lebanon before the August 2020 explosion, said Chilean airport police official Christian Saez.

Interpol initially published a red alert for Moreira in 2021 at the request of Lebanese authorities

The Portuguese man was released on bail pending a hearing to discuss an extradition request to Lebanon. His bail conditions forbid him from leaving Spain again. 

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The Lebanese justice ministry has not commented on the events.

Interpol had also published ‘red alerts’ for three other individuals suspected of involvement in the blast last year, at the request of Lebanese judge Ghassan Khoury. 

The red alerts named the captain of the boat which shipped nitrate oxide to Beirut, which later exploded, and the two Russian owners of the ship itself, alongside Moreira. 

Russian authorities have previously refused to detain or interrogate the two owners. 

The massive Beirut port explosion devastated entire neighbourhoods of the Lebanese capital on 4 August 2020.

Authorities said the blast was caused by a shipment of ammonium nitrate fertilizer that caught fire after being impounded for years in haphazard conditions close to packed residential and commerical areas.

Investigations into the tragedy have been paused for months over what rights groups and relatives of the victims have decried as political interference.

Human Rights Watch last year accused top officials in government, parliament and the country's security agencies of deadly negligence that led to the tragedy.