Nasrallah: Hariri indictment contains 'no direct evidence'

Indictment published, says phones link 4 Hezbollah suspects to Rafik Hariri assassination.

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
August 17, 2011 21:28
2 minute read.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah

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

 
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Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said an indictment accusing four members of the Shi'ite group of taking part in killing statesman Rafik al-Hariri contained "no direct evidence" against them.

Nasrallah was responding to the publication earlier on Wednesday of the indictment, which was based in large part on analysis of telephone records in the months leading up to Hariri's February 2005 assassination.

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Sealed arrest warrants for the men were issued in June by the UN-backed Special  Tribunal for Lebanon, 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 tribunal.

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.



Former Lebanese prime minister and son of Rafik Hariri, Sa'ad Hariri, on Wednesday called on Hezbollah to sever ties with the suspects 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.

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.”

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