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Lebanon: Trial on Assassination of Hariri Begins

(Jan. 23, 2014) On January 13, 2014, two-and-a-half years after the issuance of an indictment in the murder of the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafic Hariri, and others, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a hybrid international tribunal, started the trial of four Lebanese suspects in the case who are members of Hezbollah. (International Tribunal for the Hariri Assassination Starts in the Presence of Lebanese Personalities [in Arabic], ASHARQ AL AWSAT (Jan, 17, 2014).)

The indictment against the suspects, which was issued on June 10, 2011, alleges that Mustafa Amine Badreddine and Salim Jamil Ayyash, each and together with others, conspired to commit, and committed, terrorist acts and charges the men with five counts of using explosive devices and intentional and attempted intentional homicide. The indictment also alleges that Hussein Hssan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra, each and together with others, were accomplices to the felonies of committing a terrorist act, intentional homicide, and attempted intentional homicide. (Indictment (Public Redacted Version) (June 10, 2011), Special Tribunal for Lebanon website.)

Paragraph 59 of the indictment refers to the four accused as being “supporters of Hezbollah” and to Hezbollah as being “a political and military organisation in Lebanon” whose military wing “has been implicated in terrorist acts” in the past. (Id.)

In his opening statement outlining the facts of the case that the prosecution intends to use to prove the guilt of the suspects, however, the prosecutor: