(photo credit: Associated Press)
BEIRUT — A Syrian lawyer said Sunday that his country's judiciary has issued arrest warrants for 33 people, including senior Lebanese judges and international officials, for allegedly misleading the investigation into the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister.
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The attorney, Fasih al-Ashi, represents an ex-Lebanese army general, Jamil al-Sayyed, who was one of four pro-Syrian officers jailed without charge for nearly four years in connection with the 2005 slaying of Rafik Hariri. They were freed last year for lack of evidence.
Syrian government and judicial officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
Al-Ashi told The Associated Press that a Syrian judge issued the arrest
warrants Sunday after repeated state summons for the people concerned
went ignored. He refused to provide more details or discuss the legal
Al-Sayyed filed the suit against people he says misled the
investigation. He brought the case against them in Syria because he says
he does not trust Lebanon's judiciary, which he has accused of
supporting "false witnesses."
Al-Sayyed's office issued a statement Sunday saying those on Syria's
wanted list included senior Lebanese judges, politicians and
The warrants are unlikely to be executed outside of Syria.
Still, there are concerns the warrants could damage the recent
reconciliation between Syria and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri —
the son of the slain ex-premier — who has traveled to Damascus five
times in the past year in an effort to improve relations damaged by the
The warrants come amid heightened tensions and an escalating political
crisis in Lebanon, fueled by the possibility that the Netherlands-based
court probing the Hariri slaying could indict some Hizbullah members in
Hizbullah and its backer, Syria, contend the tribunal has been poisoned
by witnesses who have given false information. Tensions have increased
over media reports that the indictments could be issued as early as this