[JURIST] A judge in Lebanon on Wednesday granted bail to three men suspected of involvement in the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. The judge did not explain why he released [YaLibnan report, AP report] them within days of the planned start-up date for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (SLT) [UN backgrounder]. Of the three men, who have been detained for three years, Mahmoud and Ahmed Abdel-Aal are Lebanese brothers whose phone records allegedly link them to the bombings, and are members of a pro-Syrian Sunni Muslim group. Ibrahim Jarjoura is a Syrian who was arrested for allegedly misleading the investigation. Four more suspects, who are high ranking Lebanese generals, are still being held. The SLT is expected to request their transfer [Lebanon Daily Star report] to The Hague within two months.
Created by UN Security Council Resolution 1757 [text] in May 2007, the SLT will commence [JURIST report] operations in The Hague on March 1, but has not yet issued any indictments. Investigation of Hariri's assassination have increased tensions between Lebanon and Syria, because the UN International Independent Investigation Commission's report [text] implicated Syrian officials [YaLibnan report] in the killing.