The international court set up to try the alleged killers of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri on Thursday set a tentative date next year for the start of their trial.

But the March 25, 2013, start date given remains provisional and could still be delayed. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon has still to rule on challenges to the court's legitimacy.

The Hague-based court was set up five years ago with the support of the Lebanese government to try the alleged perpetrators of the 2005 bombing in which billionaire politician Hariri and 21 others were killed.

The four suspects, who are members of Hezbollah, a political party and guerrilla group that sees the court as a front for U.S. and Israeli interests, remain at large. The court intends to try them in absentia.

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