UN-Backed Tribunal Issues Arrest Warrants in 2005 Hariri Assassination

Posted June 30th, 2011 at 10:00 am (UTC-5)
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A U.N.-backed court investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has issued indictments and arrest warrants for four suspects in the case.

Lebanese officials say the tribunal in The Hague submitted the documents to Lebanese prosecutor general Saeed Mirza on Thursday, without disclosing the names of those charged.

Experts say that if Lebanese authorities do not arrest the suspects within 30 days, the tribunal can order the indictments to be published in local media.

Neither the tribunal nor the Lebanese government are releasing the names of the indicted. But some Lebanese reports are revealing their identities.

Lebanese media say the four individuals are Lebanese members of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group, which dominates the new Lebanese government formed earlier this month by Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

Rafik Hariri's son, Saad Hariri, also a former prime minister, says the arrest warrants represent a “historic moment” for Lebanon. He urged Mr. Mikati's government to cooperate with the tribunal.

Mr. Mikati's Cabinet said it is committed to finding the truth behind the Hariri assassination and will deal with the tribunal in a “responsible” way that avoids threatening Lebanon's stability.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned last year his group will “cut off the hand” of anyone who tries to arrest its members in the case.

Lebanon's president appointed Mr. Mikati as prime minister in January, replacing Saad Hariri, whose unity government collapsed that month when Hezbollah quit in protest at the tribunal's investigation.

Mr. Mikati formed his coalition government on June 13 after months of negotiations. Hezbollah and its allies hold a majority of seats in the 30-member Cabinet.