An international tribunal set up to put on trial the suspected killers of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri is to hold its first session this Sunday in The Hague. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is opening its doors four years after al-Hariri and 22 others were killed in a suicide truck bombing in Beirut. It’s still not clear who will be indicted in connection with the assassination, but four pro-Syria generals are being held in custody in Lebanon. Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare will have 60 days from the opening of the tribunal to request the transfer of suspects and evidence from Lebanon. Syria has denied accusations that it might have been behind the murder.
It is curious they don’t mention at all Hizbullah’s being a part of Lebanese Government, something which is surely as bad for Lebanon as being under Syrian tutelage.
Blacksmith of Lebanon has the photo of the four generals arrested in connection with Hariri’s murder and also this article about the terrorist attack:
Assad never believed there would be a UN inquiry into Hariri’s murder and it was only after I revealed in the Independent that there would be, that an astonished President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt rushed to his presidential jet and flew to Syria to warn Assad that he might be in very hot water indeed. The first UN team was led by Irish Deputy Garda Commissioner Peter Fitzgerald, who discovered that the wreckage of Hariri’s six-car motorcade had ? incredibly ? been moved from the crime scene at midnight on the day of the killings and other materials not associated with the bomb placed in the massive crater. The man responsible for doing so was General Ali al-Hajj, director general of the (then Syrian-dominated) Lebanese Internal Security Forces and one of the four men now locked up in Roumieh awaiting his day in court. If there is a court.
Al-Hajj used to work for Hariri, as his bodyguard, but was removed from his personal retinue when Hariri discovered he was also working for Syrian intelligence. He actually ‘ had the nerve to turn up at the Hariri family palace in Beirut’s Koreitem district to offer his condolences on the day of the murder.
You also can read this post about the International Tribunal in charge of the process:
“Funding is important, but international support for the Special Tribunal is also important,” he said. “There will be additional needs in coming years. The UN Secretary General is attempting to secure support from other countries, and we secured a majority of the funds necessary for the first year. I received a warm welcome and aid from many member states of the UN.”
I hope they are not blackmailed with the budget. Or forbidden to say who killed Hariri to maintain “regional stability”, stability that doesn’t exist really in the area. And the lack of condemnation of the people who ordered the killing will only make them stronger:
Eight months later, a report to the UN about Hariri’s assassination outlined a conspiracy of remarkable breadth and complexity. It revealed that three months before Hariri’s death, his security detail had been mysteriously reduced from 40 to eight; that six anonymously purchased mobile phones were used on the day of the attack to keep the bomber informed of Hariri’s movements and to provide intelligence on the three possible routes that Hariri could take from the parliament building to his home; that the suicide truck moved into position one minute and 49 seconds before Hariri’s convoy passed by; and that the truck itself had been stolen on October 12, 2004, in Sagamihara City, Japan. The killers appeared to be sophisticated, politically connected, and well-funded: clearly this was not the work of a lone extremist or a fringe group. It bore the hallmarks of a government-sponsored assassination.
(…) The ramifications of the Hariri case will extend well beyond justice and jail sentences. Many observers believe that the commission has been building a case against the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and his inner circle. Depending on how high up the charges go, the tribunal could have a major impact on the geostrategic map of the Middle East. An indictment of members of the Assad family and their closest allies, all members of Syria’s minority Alawite sect, could scuttle negotiations for a comprehensive peace deal between Syria and Israel. It could drive Assad further into the arms of Iran. It could even lead to a palace coup, or stir the country’s disenfranchised Sunni majority to revolt. “Imagine if the Syrian regime is proved to have planned and executed this assassination,” one Western diplomat with long experience in the region told me. “What will the Sunni majority in Syria think about a leadership that took out one of the major Sunni leaders of the Middle East?”
(…) Paul Salem, the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center, a Beirut-based think tank, went further: “Israel and the United States are not eager to see this regime collapse,” he told me from Qatar in mid-September. “They are afraid of the consequences.”
(…) As tensions between Syria and the U.S. increased, Hariri—along with Walid Jumblatt, the Lebanese Druze chieftain and one of Lebanon’s most powerful figures—allied himself with France and the United States, gambling successfully that the West would turn sharply against the Syrian regime and enable Lebanon to make a break. The Security Council resolution demanding Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon was an enormous blow to Assad. In Damascus, members of Assad’s inner circle began to worry not only about Hariri’s new course for Lebanon but about his reach inside Syria itself. “These guys saw Hariri as an immensely rich and powerful Sunni, and it exacerbated the paranoia of the minority regime,” says Nicholas Blanford, a Beirut-based British journalist and the author of Killing Mr. Lebanon, a book about Hariri’s murder.
Read it all.