Three other Lebanese attacks linked to Hariri murder

THE HAGUE — Three other attacks on Lebanese politicians are being linked to the 2005 murder of the country’s former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, the UN-backed tribunal probing his death said Friday.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 19 Aug 2011, 8:37 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:52 AM

“Judge (Daniel) Fransen ruled confidentially on 5 August that the prosecutor had presented prima facie evidence that each of these cases are connected and are thus within the tribunal’s jurisdiction,” the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) said in a statement.

The cases relate to assassination attempts on former telecommunications minister Marwan Hamadeh and ex-defence minister Elias Murr, and the murder of George Hawi, a former Communist party leader in the Middle East country.

Hamadeh was wounded in 2004 and Murr in 2005 in bomb attacks, while Hawi was killed on June 21, 2005, by a bomb placed underneath the passenger seat of his car, according to news reports.

Fransen’s order followed a request from STL prosecutor Daniel Bellemare’s office on June 30, asking the judge to determine whether or not the cases were linked to the massive February 14, 2005 attack that killed Hariri and 22 others including a suicide bomber.

Fransen has now issued orders asking the Lebanese authority to send the three case files to The Hague-based tribunal within the next 14 working days.

But the STL added that “while the pre-Trial judge’s rulings do not mean that an indictment will necessarily be issued by the prosecution, it allows them to continue investigating these cases.”

“It is for the prosecution to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support an indictment in any of these three connected cases,” it said.

But the tribunal said its decision on the connection between Hariri’s case and the three others remained confidential as it did not want to compromise the investigation and to protect victims and potential witnesses.

The UN-backed court is tasked with identifying those behind Hariri’s assassination as well as a string of bombings between 2004 and 2005 that killed or wounded among others several anti-Syrian politicians or journalists.

Four members of the radical Syrian-backed Hezbollah movement have been indicted for the massive 2005 car bomb attack that killed Rafiq Hariri while his convoy was passing a Beirut hotel.

Prosecutors had previously confirmed that they were indicting Salim Ayyash, 47, Mustafa Badreddine, 50, Hussein Anaissi, 37 and Assad Sabra, 34, for the Hariri attack.

Ayyash and Badreddine face five charges including that of “committing a terrorist act by means of an explosive device” and homicide, while Anaissi and Sabra face charges of conspiring to commit the same acts.

The whereabouts of the four men are currently unknown with the tribunal’s president Thursday calling for greater efforts to arrest the men.

The tribunal Wednesday said it had enough evidence to try the four Hezbollah members, as it published the full indictment.

But Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah which is now a key player in Lebanon’s coalition government, has ruled out the arrest of the four suspects, hinting that the STL was heading for a trial in absentia.

He said late Wednesday that the tribunal lacked sufficient evidence to implicate members of his group.

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