UN-backed tribunal publishes Hariri indictment

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THE HAGUE: The UN-backed court probing the 2005 murder of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafiq Hariri said Wednesday it had enough evidence to try four Hezbollah members, as it published the full indictment.

"The pre-trial judge has ordered that his decision confirming the indictment related to the 14 February 2005 attack, as well as the indictment itself, be made public," the Special Tribunal for Lebanon said.

The judge found "the prosecution has presented sufficient evidence on a prima facie basis to proceed to trial," the Hague-based tribunal added in a statement, welcomed by the court’s chief prosecutor Daniel A. Bellemare.

Judge Daniel Fransen last month ordered confidentiality around the names and charges against Salim Ayyash, 47, Mustafa Badreddine, 50, Hussein Anaissi, 37 and Assad Sabra, 34, be partially dropped.

Ayyash and Badreddine face charges of "committing a terrorist act by means of an explosive device" and homicide, while Anaissi and Sabra faced charges of conspiring to commit the same acts in the massive bomb blast that killed Hariri and 22 others.

Tribunal prosecutor Bellemare welcomed the tribunal’s order to unseal the indictment, saying he will push ahead with preparations for the trial.

"This order will finally inform the public and the victims about the facts alleged in the indictment regarding the commission of the crime that led to charging the four accused," Bellemare said in a separate statement.

More than 20,000 pages of evidence were filed with the indictment which Bellemare’s office claimed "corroborates the following factual allegations and charges included in the indictment."

The prosecutor accused Badreddine of "being the overall controller of the attack," said a summary of the indictment.

"Ayyash coordinated the assassination team that was responsible for the physical perpetration of the attack," the summary added.

"Anaissi and Sabra, in addition to being conspirators, prepared and delivered a false claim of responsibility video, which sought to blame the wrong people," it said.

It claimed an assassination team "consisting of Ayyash and others positioned themselves in several locations where they were able to track and observe Hariri’s convoy," on February 14, 2005.

It also gives a timeline of Hariri’s movements up until 12:55 local time, when a "male suicide bomber detonated a large quantity of explosives concealed in the cargo area of a… van, killing Hariri and 21 other victims and injuring 231."

Apart from Ayyash’s role, the prosecution alleged Anaissi and Sabra called two international news agencies shortly after the attack and told them they could find a video tape placed in a Beirut square, with the false information.

The tribunal itself stressed the prosecution’s findings "does not imply that the individuals are guilty, but merely establishes that there is enough material for them to be tried."

"The prosecution will have to prove at trial that the accused are guilty ‘beyond reasonable doubt," the tribunal said.


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