Crime & Justice

In Rafik Hariri’s home city, the book on his murder is closed

By Isaac J. Martin

Sidon, Lebanon, Aug 19 (efe-epa).- After a 15-year wait, the sentencing of an alleged member of Hezbollah for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has closed the book on the crime in his home city Sidon.

Rafik Hariri Boulevard leads to the old market of Sidon, 50 km (31 mi.) south of Beirut.

Photos of Hariri and his son hang on buildings in the Mediterranean Sunni-majority city, where people are not happy with the verdict.

“One? Has one person killed all those people? Is that credible? This is all a lie (…) This case should have been closed already,” Nahida Abou Dahr, 62, told Efe while sitting at one of the stalls in the historic market.

Fifteen years after the truck-bomb attack that killed Hariri and 21 other people, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Tuesday found Jamil Ayyash, an alleged Hezbollah member and one of four defendants, guilty of all charges.

Although judges believe Ayyash to have been a member of Hezbollah, they said in the verdict that they found no evidence that the Syrian government, which had troops in Lebanon at the time, or Hezbollah’s leadership were directly involved in the Hariri’s assassination.

The former PM was a prominent Sunni politician and an opponent of Syria’s involvement in Lebanese affairs.

His killing triggered massive protests that swept through Lebanon’s streets, as well as pressure from the international community that forced the Syrian troops out of the country after a three-decade-long military presence.

“A 15-year trial paid for with the money of the government and the government has neither repaired people’s houses nor given food or medicine,” Abou Dahr added, alluding to the damage caused by the recent Beirut Port explosion that killed 181 people.

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