Nearly 2,500 miles from the scene of the crime and 15 years later, a Special Tribunal for Lebanon ruled Tuesday that the main defendant charged with conspiracy to kill former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was a member of Hezbollah and used a cell phone critical in the 2005 bombing. It left Hariri and 21 others dead.
The tribunal, meeting in the Netherlands, acquitted three other men indicted in the case.
But hours into reading a 2,600-page judgment, the judges at the U.N.-backed tribunal said they could find no evidence the leadership of Hezbollah or the Syrian government had played a part in the attack—despite tying the attack’s leader to the terror group. The decision threatened further unrest in the streets of Beirut—less than two weeks after a powerful explosion at the city’s port has devastated much of its downtown area.
The Special Tribunal, approved by the U.N. Security Council after the Hariri assassination, is the first international tribunal to take on the crime of terrorism. But the 11-judge panel has spent more than a decade in deliberations, involving 400 staff members at a cost of $700 million to U.N. member states.
The judges ruled that Salim Ayyash, one of four Hezbollah members indicted in absentia, had direct involvement in the assassination of Hariri. “The evidence also established that Mr. Ayyash had affiliation with Hezbollah,” said Judge Micheline Braidy.
Read more at World Magazine