Sunday 25 June 2017

Top Hezbollah man indicted in Hariri murder

Bassem Mroue in Beirut

A UN court indicted a senior Hezbollah member and three other suspects yesterday for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Analysts last night expressed concern that the implication of Hezbollah could plunge the country into a new and violent crisis.

The truck bombing that killed Mr Hariri six years ago transformed the tiny Arab nation and brought down its government earlier this year.

An international tribunal issued the indictments and arrest warrants yesterday without releasing the names of the accused. But a Lebanese judicial official who saw the arrest warrants read the names, requesting anonymity.

One of the people named is Mustafa Badreddine, believed to have been Hezbollah's deputy military commander. He is the brother-in-law of the late Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh.

The UN-backed Hariri tribunal had long been expected to accuse members of Hezbollah -- something the Iranian-backed militant group has insisted it will not accept. Lebanon recently formed a new government that gave Hezbollah unprecedented political power.

There have been lingering fears that tensions over the tribunal could lead to street protests and a new crisis in a country where stability has long been shaky.

Lebanese authorities now have 30 days to serve the indictments on suspects or execute arrest warrants. If they fail, the court can then order the indictment published and advertised in local media.

Bombing

Hezbollah had no immediate comment. The indictment was welcomed by the office of Mr Hariri's son, Saad, six years after the bombing along Beirut's waterfront on February 14, 2005, that killed his father.

"The Lebanese government should commit to full cooperation with the international court, and not run away from detaining the suspects and hand them over to justice which is the guarantee to democracy and stability," Saad Hariri's office said.

Irish Independent

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