Hariri Court Prosecution Says There is Compelling Evidence against ‘Hezbollah’ Members

Wednesday, 12 September, 2018 - 05:30
The Hague - Abdullah Mustafa

The closing arguments at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) set up to investigate the 2005 killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri were on Tuesday presented at The Hague where the Prosecution was keen on accusing “Hezbollah” members of standing behind the assassination.

Hariri’s son, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, attended Tuesday’s first session, where the Prosecution and the Defense made their closing arguments before the judges issue their verdict later this year.

“We want justice but not revenge,” Hariri told reporters outside the court. The PM-designate refuted claims that the Tribunal’s verdict would have repercussions on Lebanese internal affairs or efforts to form the new cabinet. “Everyone should be represented. Let us not get ahead of things,” he said.

STL Spokesperson Wajed Ramadan told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hariri was present at the court on Tuesday in his capacity as an affected party.

“However, his presence generated momentum and broad media interest,” she said.

Ramadan explained that the Prosecution’s arguments would last two or three days. They would be followed by the closing arguments of legal representatives of victims and then the defense.

Four defendants went on trial in 2014 accused of core roles in the Feb. 14, 2005 attack on Beirut's waterfront targeting Hariri. They are being tried in absentia.

Salim Ayyash, 50, is accused of leading the team that carried out the attack, while Assad Sabra, 41, and Hussein Oneissi, 41, also had roles.

Hassan Habib Merhi, 52, is accused of general involvement in the plot.

The alleged mastermind, “Hezbollah” commander Mustafa Badreddine, was indicted by the court but is now believed to have died while leading the group’s forces fighting with the Syrian regime in May 2016.

“There is compelling evidence against the accused in the murder of Rafik Hariri," said the Prosecution.

"The Syrian regime is at the heart of the plot," it said, adding that the network, which led the assassination, is entirely affiliated with “Hezbollah.”

Last month, “Hezbollah” Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah accused his political rivals of using the tribunal to put pressure on the group.

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