Lawyer: Syria posts arrest warrants in Hariri case

Attorney for ex-Lebanese army general formerly jailed in connection with slaying of Rafik Hariri says Lebanese officials misled investigation.

311_Rafik Hariri (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_Rafik Hariri
(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.
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.
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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 procedures involved.
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 journalists.
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 assassination.
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 the case.
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 month.