BBC delays program on Lebanese ex-premier’s murder

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LONDON: The BBC said Thursday it had delayed a documentary film series about the murder of ex-Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri amid tensions in Lebanon over a UN-backed probe into his death.

In a statement, the British broadcaster said it needed more time to check that "Murder In Beirut," a three-part series due to begin screening on the BBC World News channel on Saturday, complied with its editorial guidelines.

There is speculation in Lebanon that the film may accuse operatives of the powerful Shia militant group Hezbollah over the 2005 assassination, further heightening tensions over the international probe into the death.

"All programs shown by BBC World News must comply with the BBC’s editorial guidelines. This applies equally to programs we commission from the BBC, independents or, in this case, bought-in programs," the broadcaster said.

"From time to time, the compliance process requires more time to complete. This can affect scheduling. This series of programs falls into this category."

A spokesman said no new date had been set for the program.

The film’s producer, Christopher Mitchell, told The Guardian newspaper: "’Murder in Beirut’ tackles a difficult subject and everybody on the production worked hard to make sure it was as fair and accurate as possible."

Tensions are rising in Lebanon amid reports that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is set to issue an indictment soon that will implicate high-ranking members of Hezbollah in Hariri’s murder.

The group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, warned last week that Hezbollah would "cut off the hand" of anyone who tried to arrest its members over the probe.

Rafiq Hariri was killed on February 14, 2005 in a huge bombing in Beirut that left 22 other people dead.

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