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Hariri demands ‘justice’ for slain father at trial
September 12, 2018
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LEIDSCHENDAM: Lebanon’s incoming prime minister called for “justice” but not revenge on Monday as the trial of four Hizbollah suspects over the assassination of his father Rafiq Hariri in 2005 entered its final stretch.

Saad Hariri was in court in The Netherlands to hear the first day of closing arguments at the UN-backed tribunal into the “horror” suicide blast that changed the face of the Middle East.

Prosecutors said Rafiq Hariri, a billionaire Sunni former premier, was targeted by the Shiite militant group Hizbollah because he opposed Syria’s control over Lebanon.

The tribunal is unique in international justice because it is trying the four defendants in absentia over the attack that killed 21 people besides Hariri and wounded 226.

“There is no doubt that this day is difficult for me, as the son of Rafiq Hariri,” Saad Hariri told reporters outside the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in Leidschendam, a suburb of The Hague.

“From the start, we demanded justice because we believe that justice and the truth protect Lebanon. This is what we always wanted and we never resorted to revenge.”

While the younger Hariri said he had “no doubt” that Syria had a “huge problem” with his father, he would “deal with this issue as a responsible official” to maintain his country’s fragile political balance.

His efforts to form a cabinet for a third term as premier have been locked in a three-month dispute over ministerial posts, while he himself had a turbulent patch in 2017 when he announced his surprise resignation during a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has refused to hand over the suspects and warned the tribunal “don’t play with fire” while Syrian leader Bashar Al Assad says it is a tool to “pressure Hizbollah.”

The four defendants went on trial in 2014 accused of core roles in the Valentine’s Day attack on Beirut’s waterfront targeting Hariri, who resigned in October 2004 over Syria’s role in his country.

Salim Ayyash, 50, is accused of leading the team that carried out the attack, while Assad Sabra, 41, and Hussein Oneissi, 41, allegedly sent a fake video to the Al Jazeera news channel claiming responsibility on behalf of a made-up group.

Hassan Habib Merhi, 52, is accused of general involvement in the plot.

Agence France-Presse

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