Hezbollah gives Hariri evidence to Lebanon judiciary

BEIRUT - Lebanon’s Hezbollah submitted a dossier to a state prosecutor on Tuesday after a U.N. court requested the Shi’ite group provide the evidence it said it had of Israel’s involvement in the 2005 killing of Rafik al-Hariri.

By (Reuters)

Published: Tue 17 Aug 2010, 7:51 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:49 AM

Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah last week displayed what he said was Israeli surveillance footage of routes used by Hariri, saying this pointed to Israel carrying out the suicide bombing which killed the former prime minister and 22 others.

Nasrallah displayed the footage a few weeks after he was told the Special Tribunal for Lebanon may indict some of the group’s members over the Hariri killing, an allegation he categorically rejects.

He has strongly criticised the U.N. tribunal and attacked it as an “Israeli project”, raising fears of renewed potential conflict between the Iranian-backed militant group and the U.S.- and Saudi-backed Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, Rafik’s son.

At a gathering late on Monday Hariri called for calm, saying Lebanon should not fear “any political noise, which we hope to calm down and turn into calm speech, and start democratic dialogue”.

On Saturday, he said he wanted to know who killed his father but at the same time he wanted stability. “Dialogue cannot succeed with the accusations of treason and with repeated calls for tests of patriotism and nationalism,” Hariri said.

After Nasrallah’s two-hour presentation of footage, witness testimonies and analysis aimed at making a case that Israel was behind the assassination, the Office of the Prosecutor at the U.N. tribunal asked Lebanese authorities to provide all information in Nasrallah’s possession, including the footage.

Fears over government collapse?

Lebanese Prosecutor Saeed Mirza passed on the evidence, which he received from senior Hezbollah official Wafiq Safa, to the chief prosecutor Daniel Bellemare’s office in Lebanon, judicial sources said.

Hezbollah, which fought Israel to stalemate in a 2006 war, is determined to deflect any blame for the 2005 assassination.

Hariri’s remarks came before a scheduled session of “national dialogue” on Thursday in which rival leaders are trying to agree the country’s defence strategy towards Israel.

Political sources said the tribunal was not on the agenda but it was very likely to be brought up during discussions.

The first national dialogue session was held in September 2008 after a Qatari-mediated deal ended an 18-month political crisis which led to a street fighting between Hezbollah and supporters of the pro-Western Hariri which took the country to the brink of renewed civil war.

The fighting broke out when the government tried to shut down a telephone network operated by Hezbollah, which called the move a declaration of war. Some analysts warned that such a scenario could be repeated if Hezbollah figures are indicted. Hariri formed a national unity government last year which includes Hezbollah ministers. Analysts say if the tribunal does indict Hezbollah members, the group, together with Shi’ite and Christian allies, could decide to collapse the government.

Assafir newspaper said on Tuesday Hariri and Nasrallah’s assistant Hussein Khalil held a late night meeting on Sunday. It quoted sources describing the meeting as “positive and very useful”.

More news from WORLD