Hariri trial could start in late 2011: court

LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands - The assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005 could come to trial next September or October, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon said on Thursday.

By (Reuters)

Published: Thu 9 Dec 2010, 6:56 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:59 AM

Tribunal Registrar Herman von Hebel told journalists at the court in the Netherlands that this was a “best-case scenario”.

Speculation has mounted in recent months that investigators would indict Hezbollah members over the assassination. Lebanese politicians fear this could spark a crisis and a possible relapse into violence.

Hezbollah, which is part of a unity government led by Hariri’s son Saad, has repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing. Its leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has said he will not allow the arrest of any Hezbollah members.

Von Hebel said that if arrests could not be made, suspects could still be tried in absentia.

He said the office of the prosecutor was likely to send a draft indictment to the pre-trial judge for confirmation “very, very soon”.

The pre-trial judge could then take about six to 10 weeks to decide whether to confirm the indictment and issue arrest warrants, either under seal or by naming suspects publicly.

Von Hebel said preparations could be expected to take four to six months, giving a possible starting date for the trial of September or October.

“That four to six (months) is a ballpark figure ... which is why I am saying second half or the end of next year is a likely scenario,” he said.

He added that no suspects would be named publicly until an indictment was confirmed.

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