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Wed 17 Aug 2011 04:03 PM

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UN court says phones link men to murder of Rafiq Hariri

UN reveals details of four men alleged to be behind 2005 killing of Lebanon PM

UN court says phones link men to murder of Rafiq Hariri
A portrait of Lebanons slain former prime minister Rafiq Hariri is installed behind central Beiruts landmark martyrs statue

The United Nations court investigating the 2005 killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri completed the unsealing of its indictment in the case today, providing details of the allegations against four men described by local media as Hezbollah members.

The court provided partial information on July 29, identifying Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra as suspects in the bombing that left the former premier and 22 other people dead. The defendants’ names had been revealed by Interior Minister Marwan Charbel in a July 1 interview.

Badreddine was the controller of the attack, while Ayyash coordinated the team that carried out the bombing, according to the indictment. Oneissi and Sabra, in addition to being indicted as conspirators, are accused in the document of preparing and delivering a video in which another person falsely took responsibility for the assault.

Hezbollah and allied lawmakers quit the Cabinet of Saad Hariri, Rafiq’s son, in January in a dispute over the inquiry, causing the collapse of his government. Hezbollah had pressed Hariri to halt cooperation with the court, saying it is unconstitutional, biased and part of a US-Israeli plot to target the group and its backer, Syria. The disagreement threatens a return to sectarian violence in a country that emerged from a 15-year civil war in 1990.

The case is based on “circumstantial evidence,” according to the indictment. The perpetrators are alleged to have stopped using their phones two minutes before the assassination, coinciding with the time a bomb-laden van moved into position as Hariri’s convoy approached. The phones were never used again, according to the charges.

Hezbollah wanted Saad Hariri to end Lebanon’s financing of 49 percent of the tribunal, which is based near The Hague.

The UN indictment was given to Lebanese authorities on June 30. Officials told the court on August 9 that none of the four suspects indicted has been detained. If they aren’t present at the trial, then the trial-lawyer chamber of the court can initiate in-absentia proceedings, Francois Roux, head of the court’s defense office, said in a July 6 interview.

Lebanese media outlets including LBC have reported that Badreddine is a Hezbollah military commander and brother-in-law of Imad Mughniyeh, who was blamed for the 1983 attack on a US Marines barracks in Beirut and who died in a car bombing in Syria in 2008.

Hezbollah and Syria deny any connection with Hariri’s killing. The Shiite movement’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, last year threatened reprisals against anyone who tried to arrest members of his group in connection with the case. The tribunal’s investigators were attacked at a clinic in a southern suburb of Beirut in October while collecting information.

Hezbollah is backed by Iran as well as Syria and classified as a terrorist group by the US and Israel. It won popularity in Lebanon by helping to force Israel’s army to withdraw from the country in 2000 after an 18-year occupation. It also fought Israel in a month long war in 2006.

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We Are The People 9 years ago

So many years the UN invested in investigating this case, so much effort, money and politics were involved and the conclusion is someone stopped using his phone? This is nothing but a weak circumstantial evidence at its best. If this case ever goes to trail with this evidence as it its lead conclusion, the UN will lose. After all that time, this is what the UN come up with, wow.