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Ex-Lebanese PM questioned over how $11 billion was spent

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Former Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora was questioned by a state prosecutor on Thursday over how $11 billion in state funds was spent while he was in power.

His office issued a statement saying the spending was entirely legal.

It was the first time a former prime minister in Lebanon had been summoned for such questioning, and it follows protests against a ruling elite that is widely accused of state corruption.

Opponents of Siniora, who was prime minister from 2005 until 2008 and had two spells as finance minister, say $11 billion in government funds was unaccounted for while he was in power.

But in its statement, Siniora’s office said he had explained to the financial public prosecutor where the money was spent and that is was used in meeting state needs.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside Siniora’s home in Beirut and outside his office in the southern city of Sidon, chanting and waving Lebanese flags, Reuters television reported.

“The theater of simply summoning him is not enough. We want the money, we want our children’s money and we will not leave the streets until we get it back,” said Majid, a protester in Sidon.

Reporting by Dala Osseiran and Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Timothy Heritage