Lebanon tribunal indicts fifth suspect in Hariri assassination

[JURIST] The UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) [official website; UN backgrounder] on Thursday indicted [text, PDF; press release] Hassan Merhi on charges including terrorism and intentional homicide in a 2005 truck bombing that killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and 21 others. Merhi is charged with helping to create a video claiming false responsibility for the attack, the coordination of the video's delivery, and conspiracy aimed at committing a terrorist act. Prosecutor Norman Farrell welcomed the public announcement [press release] of the indictment, stating:

The Office of the Prosecutor continues its efforts to fully investigate and prosecute those alleged to be responsible for the attack on 14 February 2005. Recognizing that all suspects are presumed innocent and have the right to a full defense, the Prosecution is working towards accountability, preparing to present reliable and credible evidence to the Trial Chamber.
Merhi is the fifth suspect to be charged [Al Jazeera report] relating to the incident. Four other Hezbollah members were charged in 2011 with plotting the attack, and all suspects remain at large.

The other suspects Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Hussein Oneissi and Assad Sabra [STL profiles] are charged in absentia with involvement in the bombing. Hezbollah has denied involvement [AP report] in Hariri's killing, refusing to extradite the first four suspects. In July the STL confirmed its jurisdiction [JURIST report] over the trials of the alleged assassins. Earlier that month the STL upheld [JURIST report] the decision to try the four accused in absentia, and their trial is scheduled to start in January 2014 in their absence if they are not detained. In February 2012 the STL granted [JURIST report] the prosecution's office permission to proceed with the case against the four accused assassins. In August 2011 the STL announced [JURIST report] that it would investigate three additional bombings that is believed to be connected to the February 2005 bomb attack.

 

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