Rai calls for UN to impose international investigation into Beirut blast


Lebanon’s top Christian cleric Sunday called for the United Nations to impose an international investigation into the deadly Aug. 4 blast if the government continued to refuse one, labeling the disaster a “crime against humanity” on the 40-day anniversary of the explosion.

“If the Lebanese authorities, for political reasons, refuse the international investigation, then the United Nations must impose that, because what happened is close to a crime against humanity. If killing a people, destroying a capital, and erasing a heritage do not together constitute a crime against humanity, then what is the gravest crime?” Patriarch Bechara al-Rai said Sunday.

Rai holds relative political clout in Lebanon as the head of the Maronite Church, whose followers are believed to constitute around 40 percent of Lebanon’s population.