Saad Hariri (L) with Erdogan last week
Photo: Reuters

Hariri killing indictment filed; last mediation effort in Damascus

Prosecutor of UN tribunal probing assassination of former Lebanese premier submits indictment, supporting materials to pre-trial judge; Turkish PM, Qatari emir meet with Assad in attempt to prevent more violence in Lebanon

The prosecutor of the international Lebanon tribunal issued a draft indictment on Monday over the 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.


The contents of the draft indictment, which will now be reviewed by pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen, were not revealed, and details of the charge sheet may not emerge for another six to 10 weeks, when Fransen is expected to decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial.


"The prosecutor of the tribunal has submitted an indictment and supporting materials to the pre-trial judge," the UN-backed tribunal said in a statement.


The tribunal said the documents were handed to the registry at 1535 GMT, but added that the contents of the indictment will remain confidential at this stage.


"The prosecutor and his team will continue to vigorously pursue his mandate with respect to both continued investigative activity and the prosecution of this case," the office of prosecutor said in a statement.


Hezbollah's al-Manar television said on Monday the United States was behind the release of the draft indictment in order to sabotage efforts to solve Lebanon's crisis.


It accused Washington of "pushing the indictment ahead to light the fuse to blow up the bridges for a solution", adding that the "Americans control the indictments in form and content."


Also on Monday, Turkey's Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Syrian President Bashar Assad met in Damascus Monday in an effort to reach a breakthrough in the efforts to mediate between Syria and Saudi Arabia.


Syria is considered one of the main supporters of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, while Riyadh backs the Sunni faction, which is headed by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.


'Wthdraw the Lebanese judges'

An agreement between Syria and Saudi Arabia may prevent another round of violence in Lebanon after the findings of the investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri are made public.


Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was to travel to Lebanon on Tuesday to help mediate in the crisis, a diplomat said in Ankara.


UN chief Ban Ki-moon, on a visit to Abu Dhabi, called for calm in Lebanon and made an appeal for the work of the tribunal not to be politicised.


The past few days have seen contradicting reports regarding the indictment. French daily Le Monde reported Saturday that "according to several sources close to the office of the prosecutor, the charges target members of Hezbollah."


However, sources familiar with the investigation told American website Newsmax that the tribunal will accuse Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei of giving the order to murder Hariri.


The sources told Newsmax, an American news website, that the tribunal will lay out evidence showing that the murder was committed by Iran's Quds force and Hezbollah.


The order to murder Hariri was transmitted to Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah's top commander at the time, by Quds force chief Qassem Suleymani, sources familiar with the investigation told Newsmax.


On Sunday, five days after his organization toppled the Saad Hariri government, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah accused Israel and the US of being behind the investigation and claimed that Prime Minister Saad Hariri backed out of an agreement between the parties which was brokered by Saudi Arabia and Syria.


"We had reached the conclusion that we must withdraw the Lebanese judges, stop Lebanese funding of the tribunal and cancel the agreement between Lebanon and the court," Nasrallah said referring to the agreement. "And the Saudis told us they, as well as Hariri, agree to the three clauses."


The tribunal was created by a 2007 UN Security Council resolution to find and try the killers of Hariri, assassinated in a massive car bombing on the Beirut seafront on February 14, 2005 that also killed 22 other people.


Hezbollah, which dismisses the tribunal as part of a US-Israeli plot, has repeatedly stated it would not accept an indictment of its members and warned of repercussions, raising regional fears of renewed Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence.


Nasrallah warned in November the group will "cut off the hand" of anyone who tries to arrest any of its partisans for the Hariri killing.


Reuters, AFP contributed to the report



פרסום ראשון: 01.17.11, 18:51
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