Hezbollah hands over material for Hariri UN tribunal

Special Tribunal for Lebanon studying documents and videos provided by Shi'ite group whose members have been indicted for 2005 assassination.

August 4, 2011 12:20
2 minute read.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah

Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)


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AMSTERDAM - The UN-backed Lebanon tribunal's prosecutor said he is studying documents and a video provided by Hezbollah, some of whose members are accused of killing former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) issued indictments and arrest warrants for four men, who Lebanese officials identified as Hezbollah members. Last week the tribunal released their names, photographs and details in the hope of speeding up the arrests.

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Hezbollah, both a political movement and guerrilla army, denies any role in the huge explosion in Beirut which killed Hariri, a Sunni Muslim who served several terms as prime minister, and 21 others in February 2005.

It accuses the tribunal of being political and an Israeli tool.

Last month the group's leader,  Hassan Nasrallah, gave a televised speech in which he dismissed the indictments as a failed attempt to sow strife and bring down Lebanon's new Hezbollah-backed government.

He also showed documents and videos aimed at portraying the investigation into Hariri's killing as both corrupt and biased against Hezbollah.

He displayed a document which he said showed that when the tribunal transferred equipment from Lebanon to the Netherlands in 2009, it sent a consignment of 97 computers via Israel rather than ship them directly from Beirut.

His statement was intended to imply that Israel was either driving the investigation or tampering with the evidence. He also showed a video which claimed that one of the tribunal's investigators accepted a bribe.

The prosecutor asked Hezbollah to hand over the video and documentary evidence for the investigation.

"As part of its continuing investigation, the office of the prosecutor received material hand-delivered by Hezbollah officials through the prosecutor general of Lebanon on 13 July," said a statement from the STL's office of the prosecutor.

"This material was provided in response to a request made by the office of the prosecutor," it added.

The suspects named last week were 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.

Nasrallah has said the authorities would never arrest members of the Shi'ite militant group.

The 2005 killing plunged Lebanon into a series of political crises and assassinations that led to clashes in May 2008.

The tribunal has deepened the political division in the country, leading to fears that the indictments could revive sectarian tension in a country still scarred by the 1975-90 civil war.

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