The UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) [official website] on Wednesday unsealed [press release] the indictment [text] against four individuals accused of assassinating former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The pre-trial judge issued a decision confirming the indictment, as well as an order lifting confidentiality [texts, PDF]. A sealed indictment was handed down in January, and arrest warrants were issued [JURIST reports] in June for Mustafa Badreddine, Salim al-Ayyash, Hasan Aineysseh and Asad Sabra [STL materials], who are alleged members of Hezbollah [CFR backgrounder]. STL prosecutor Daniel Bellemare welcomed the order [press release] to unseal the indictment:
This Order will finally inform the public and the victims about the facts alleged in the indictment regarding the commission of the crime that led to charging the four accused. This unsealing of the indictment answers many questions about the 14 February 2005 attack. The full story will however only unfold in the courtroom, where an open, public, fair and transparent trial will render a final verdict.Lebanese authorities reported to the tribunal last week that they have not detained the suspects [JURIST report]. A trial in absentia is likely [Guardian report] if the suspects are not apprehended.
On Thursday, the STL president made a public plea for the four men to turn themselves in [JURIST report]. Judge Antonio Cassese guaranteed a fair trial and adequate representation and pressed Lebanese citizens to allow the STL to hold the assassins accountable. In February, the appeals chamber of the STL issued a unanimous ruling [summary, PDF] on several procedural issues, including the definition of terrorism [JURIST report], in judicial proceedings. The STL began debate on the issue [JURIST report] to determine which laws to apply in the case against persons accused of involvement in the February 2005 truck bomb that killed Hariri and 22 other people. Using the Article 314 of the Lebanese Criminal Code [text, PDF], the court held that a conviction on the charge of terrorism requires proof of an act intended to spread terror and use of a means "liable to create a public danger," that the only requirement is that "the means used to carry out the terrorist attack be liable to create a common danger" and that the trial judges should be given latitude in determining whether the requirement was met after having considered the facts presented in the case. The STL was established in 2005 at the request of the Lebanese government to try those alleged to be connected to the bombing in which Hariri was killed by explosions detonated near his motorcade in Beirut.