Hariri calls on Hezbollah to hand suspects to tribunal

Indictment published, says phones link 4 suspects to Rafik Hariri assasination; Sa'ad Hariri urges Nasrallah, Lebanese gov't to cooperate.

By JPOST.COM, REUTERS
August 17, 2011 18:27
2 minute read.
Sa'ad Hariri in front of his father's picture

Hariri and Hariri 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Former Lebanese prime minister Sa'ad Hariri on Wednesday called on Hezbollah to sever ties with four of its members indicted for assassinating his father Rafik Hariri and hand them over to the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon to face trial.

"Hezbollah and its chief, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, should put an end to the policy of evading the STL, cooperate with the tribunal, and hand over the suspects in order to ensure the establishment of a fair trial,” Naharnet quoted Hariri as saying.

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Hariri slammed Lebanon's Hezbollah-controlled government for its refusal to arrest the suspects and cooperate with the tribunal. “The rhetoric of attempting to outsmart the public … and attempts to escape responsibility in capturing the suspects will no longer work and these matters will only portray the government as failing to cooperate with the tribunal.”

The former Lebanese prime minister said that STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare had submitted evidence implicating the four Hezbollah men that was "too overwhelming to be outmaneuvered.”

The suspects in the killing of Rafik Hariri were linked to the attack largely by circumstantial evidence gleaned from phone records, according to an indictment published on Wednesday after a six-year investigation which polarized Lebanon.

Sealed arrest warrants for the men were issued in June by the UN-backed tribunal, setting the stage for the case to go to trial, but none of the four have been detained by Lebanese authorities and Hezbollah says they will never be arrested.

The suspects are Mustafa Amine Badreddine, a senior Hezbollah figure and brother-in-law of slain Hezbollah commander Imad Moughniyeh, as well as Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra.

"The four accused participated in a conspiracy with others aimed at committing a terrorist act to assassinate Rafik Hariri," said the 47-page indictment released by the Netherlands-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

The Shi'ite Muslim group Hezbollah -- which is backed by Iran and Syria -- has denied any role in the February 2005 bombing which killed Hariri, a billionaire Sunni Muslim politician, and 21 other people on the Beirut seafront.

The killing plunged Lebanon into a series of political crises and assassinations that led to clashes in May 2008, and there were fears that the indictments could revive sectarian tensions in a country still scarred by its 1975-1990 civil war.

Hezbollah, a political movement, terrorist group and guerrilla army, toppled the government of Hariri's son, Sa'ad Hariri, in January after he resisted calls to renounce the tribunal.

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