Saad Hariri seeks ‘justice’ as trial wraps up

Leidschendam, Netherlands: Lebanon’s incoming prime minister called for “justice” as a UN-backed tribunal into the huge bombing that killed his father Rafiq Hariri in 2005 entered its last stage.
Saad Hariri was in court in The Netherlands as closing arguments began in the trial in absentia of four suspects over the attack that changed the face of the Middle East.
Prosecutors said the suicide bomb, which also killed 21 other people and wounded 226, was a deliberate attempt to create “horror” and that billionaire former premier Rafiq Hariri was assassinated.
“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,” added Hariri, recently designated for a third term as prime minister.
The tribunal is unique in international justice because it is trying the four suspects despite the fact that they are not present, as Hizbullah has refused to hand them over.
They have been on trial since 2014 accused of core roles in the Valentine’s Day attack on Beirut’s waterfront targeting Hariri, Lebanon’s prime minister until his resignation in October 2004.
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.
The alleged mastermind, Hizbullah commander Mustafa Badreddine, was indicted by the court but is now believed to have died while fighting with the Syrian regime in May 2016.
Prosecutors said their case — which relies on mobile phone records allegedly showing the suspects conducting intense surveillance of Hariri from just after his resignation until minutes before the blast — was “circumstantial” but “compelling”. — AFP