Crime & Justice

Special tribunal finds one guilty of murdering ex-Lebanon PM Rafik Hariri

Leidschendam, Netherlands, Aug 18 (efe-epa).- A United Nations-backed special tribunal on Tuesday found one person guilty of the 2005 murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in a long-awaited verdict.

Presiding judge David Re at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon said the trial chamber found Salim Ayyash, a presumed member of the Shia militant group Hezbollah, guilty of “committing a terrorist attack by means of an explosive device” and “intentional of homicide of Rafik Hariri with premeditation by using explosive materials.”

Judges also found Ayyash guilty of the intentional homicide of 21 others who died in the Beirut suicide bombing on 14 February that year and attempted intentional homicide of 226 people who were injured in the explosion.

Three other defendants, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, Assad Hassan Sabra and Hassan Habib Merhi, who had been on trial in absentia at the court in Leidschendam, on the outskirts of the Hague, since 2014, were found not guilty.

The whereabouts of the culprit and the three former defendants has remained unknown since the blast.

The trial focused on a network of cell phones used by the alleged Hezbollah members in the planning of the assassination.

Although judges believe Ayyash to have been a member of Hezbollah, they said in the verdict that they found no evidence the Syrian government, which had troops in Lebanon at the time, nor Hezbollah’s leadership were directly involved in the assassination of Hariri.

Hariri was a prominent Sunni politician and opponent to Syria’s involvement in Lebanese affairs.

Judge Re said: “The trial chamber is of the view that Syria and Hezbollah may have had motives to eliminate Mr. Hariri and his political allies.

“However, there is no evidence that the Hezbollah leadership had any involvement in Mr. Hariri’s murder and there is no direct evidence of Syrian involvement.”

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