By Rashi Jain-
Today, the verdict in the trial Hariri’s Assassination will finally be handed over by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), an international court situated near the Hague, Netherlands. After more than 15 years, the assassination case will finally receive the verdict.
The horrific and audacious massive car bombing on 14th February 2005, killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others, injured hundreds of people and left the place covered with ashes and smoke. The verdict was earlier supposed to be set for August 7 but got delayed due to the Beirut explosion.
The UN-backed special tribunal today is trying some senior members of Hezbollah – A Shia Islamist political party and militant group based in Lebanon. The accused are Salim Jalil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, and Assad Hassan Sabra belonging to Hezbollah.
“Mr. Ayyash, 56, is accused of coordinating the team that carried out the bombing. Mr. Sabra, 43, and Mr. Oneissi, 46, are said to have sent a fake video to the news media, claiming responsibility on behalf of a fictitious group. Mr. Merhi, 54, is accused of general involvement in the plot. Because the suspects have never been found, they were tried in absentia, a practice seldom seen in international courts though permitted under Lebanese law.” – New York Times.
One of the key suspects besides the accused mentioned above was Mustafa Amine Badreddinne, who was killed in Syria in 2016, resting the case against him. However, the prosecution in 2018 used this as evidence against Hezbollah and said “He was a Hezbollah military commander of the first order, the attack was masterminded and overseen by Mustafa Badreddine,”
However, there is also evidence connecting Syria and Hezbollah with the assassination of Former PM.
“The rationale and motivation behind the behavior of the networks become evident. Indeed, the motives and actions of Syrian and Hezbollah officials were intimately connected at the time, and the corresponding reaction of covert networks involved in the plot reinforces the conclusion that they were operated by a single entity, coordinated by the accused and overseen by Badreddine.” – The prosecution concluded.
On 19th October 2005, The UNIIIC report was submitted by Detlev Mehlis to the Security Council. The report was submitted by a commission that was established to assist the Lebanese authorities in the investigation of the bombing. The report mentioned-
“It is the Commission’s view that the assassination of 14 February 2005 was carried out by a group with an extensive organization and considerable resources and capabilities. The crime had been prepared over the course of several months. For this purpose, the timing and location of Mr. Rafik Hariri’s movements had been monitored and the itineraries of his convoy recorded in detail.
Building on the findings of the Commission and Lebanese investigations to date and on the basis of the material and documentary evidence collected, and the leads pursued until now, there is converging evidence pointing at both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in this terrorist act”
Hezbollah and its allies are the strongest and most famous political forces in the country. The run-up verdict is likely to add to the simmering tensions between supporters of Hezbollah and Future Movement party. Rafik Hariri belonged to the Future Movement party. Lebanese majority public, even today, are die-hard supporters of Rafik Hariri and at large for the whole country, today’s upcoming verdict will be historical.