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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Dec 03rd
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow UN & Tribunal arrow Four Lebanese generals 'to be handed to UN for Rafik Hariri tribunal'
Four Lebanese generals 'to be handed to UN for Rafik Hariri tribunal' PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Charter, Europe Correspondent - TheTimesOnline   
Thursday, 26 February 2009

The car bomb that killed the former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut left an enormous crater in the ground
The car bomb that killed the former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut left an enormous crater in the ground

Four army generals held in Lebanon over the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri could be handed over within weeks to the special tribunal in The Hague that will put them on trial, the court registrar said today.

The four, who include a former head of Lebanese state security, have been in custody for more than three years after the devastating car bomb in Beirut on February 14, 2005, which killed Mr Hariri and 22 others.

The killings sparked accusations that Damascus was behind the attack of the high-profile anti-Syrian politician – which it strongly denies – and led to reprisal killings and the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after 29 years. Investigators from the United Nations have yet to name any suspects within Syria itself but seven people are being held in Lebanon.

A formal request for the transfer of the generals is being prepared by Daniel Belemarre, chief prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which will officially begin operations at its base in a suburb of The Hague on Sunday.

Robin Vincent, the British registrar of the tribunal, said; “This tribunal will, from the taking of office [on March 1] apply to the Lebanese authorities for the transfer of people…The prosecutor has said he will be making the requests.”

The four generals in custody – Lebanon's formerintelligence chief Raymond Azar, Mustapha Hamdan of the presidential guard, Ali Hajj, Director of Internal Security Forcec, and Jamil al-Sayyed from Lebanese General Security – were arrested on the rcommendation of the former chief investigator Detlev Mehlis, the German prosecutor who carried out the initial UN inquiry.

Mr Mehlis concluded that there was evidence implicating Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services in the assassination.

Mr Vincent has pledged that the Special Tribunal will prepare a witness protection programme to encourage people to come forward. “Some witnesses in the case will be granted new IDs and will be transferred to other places,” he said, adding that the tribunal had signed agreements with a number of countries to find them new homes.

Eleven judges, including four from Lebanon, are understood to have been nominated for the tribunal but their names have been kept secret for security reasons.

The launch comes at a delicate moment for Lebanon which is gearing up for elections on June 7 when the anti-Syrian coalition government will defend its slim majority against an alliance led by the militant group Hezbollah.

“The time for truth has come and justice will come,” said Saad Hariri, Mr Hariri’s son and political heir, at a large rally in Beirut at the weekend.

“Every flower on the gravesite, every young child's tear, and every prayer for Lebanon participated in paving the way to The Hague.”

Mr Hariri leads a Sunni Muslim coalition, which has support from the United States and Saudi Arabia, against a Shiite opposition backed by Syria and Iran.

The Special Tribunal’s budget will be $35 million for its first year, $45 million for the second year and $40 million for the third. Just over half will come from international donors with 49 per cent from Lebanon.

Lebanon is free of Syria, but not free of her agents who believe Lebanon is a Syrian province. Hizbullah will continue their reign of terror. Until Hizbullah is disarmed and the Palestinians re-patriated, the terror in Lebanon will continue. The West should protect Lebanon from Syria/Iran's terror.

Marcos, Washington, US

The development of new international criminal courts paves the way for a new era of international adjudication with a different type of jurisdiction. I do however hope that this experiment proves to uphold the highest standards of justice, and that the punishment be fair rather than 'severe'.

Yara, Edinburgh,

This is wonderful news. I never thought I'd see the day when the perpetrators of this crime would be brought to justice (you see, in Lebanon, we have a history of high profile assassinations that go unpunished). My only hope is that this tribunal is far reaching and the punishment severe.

Said, Beirut, Lebanon

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