The Special Tribunal for Lebanon has confirmed Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare’s indictments of four suspects in the Hariri murder. While the indictment has not yet been made public, media leaks (which accurately predicted the indictment’s release) suggest that the four suspects are the following individuals:
- Mustafa Badreddine
- Salim Ayyash
- Hasan Aineysseh
- Assad Sabra
BEIRUT: A U.N.-backed court probing the 2005 assassination of statesman Rafik Hariri handed over Thursday the Lebanon-portion of the indictment, which accused four Hezbollah members, a judicial source told The Daily Star.
The indictment identified the suspects as Mustafa Badreddine, Salim al-Ayyash, Hasan Aineysseh and Asad Sabra.
A three-man delegation from the Special tribunal for Lebanon met State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza before midday Thursday and submitted the sealed indictment and arrest warrants for the four suspects.
Hezbollah has denied involvement in the Hariri assassination and has described accusations as an “Israeli-American project.”
Speaking to a local radio station during a break from talks at Baabda Palace, Minister of State of Administrative Affairs and Hezbollah member Mohammad Fneish said: “When we see the [STL] indictment, we will comment on it.”
Badreddine is a cousin and a brother-in-law of Hezbollah’s slain commander Imad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated in Syria in 2008. Badreddine eventually replaced Mughniyeh as Hezbollah’s chief operations officer.
According to the indictment, Badreddine masterminded and supervised the plot to assassinate the Lebanese statesman while, Ayyash, 48, is alleged to have headed the cell that carried out the assassination of Hariri.
Lebanon, according to experts, now has 30 days to serve out the arrest warrants. If the suspects are not arrested within that period, the STL will then make public the indictment and summon the suspects to appear before the court.
A U.N. source familiar with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon said the people include alleged perpetrators on the ground. The next two lists of indictments are expected later this summer and are expected to include the organizers and planners of the attack, the source said.
Reactions began pouring in from Lebanon’s various political factions Thursday, after a Special Tribunal for Lebanon delegation handed over an indictment over the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, reportedly accusing Hezbollah members.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea urged lawmakers to look at the suspects in the STL indictment as individuals accused of a crime, rather than affiliating them with their party, religion or country.
“We need to look at the accused as a person rather than link them with their party, sect, or country that he belongs to,” Geagea said, shortly after a Special Tribunal for Lebanon delegation delivered its indictment, said to implicate two Hezbollah members, to the country’s state prosecutor Thursday.
Some Reactions to the News on Twitter (please use #STL)
@BeirutCalling (Michael Young) — After 6 years of investigation, the Special Tribunal for #Lebanon indicts four Hezbollah suspects. The mountain has given birth to a mouse.
@rmslim (Randa Slim) — @DavidKenner Two of the names are senior level and the other two are Hezb members but not so senior. #STL #Lebanon
@nmoawad (Nadine Moawad) — The #STL has so far cost over $160 million USD – half of which was payed by #Lebanon (i.e. our tax money)
@abumuqawama (Andrew Exum) — Whew. A quick scan on those indicted in the #STL reveals I have never played soccer with any of them. http://bit.ly/mmENGL
More news reports and reactions to be updated throughout the day. Stay tuned.