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Middle east

Key suspect in Hariri assassination reportedly arrested in UAE

Video by Richard TOMPSETT

Latest update : 2009-04-20

Mohammed Zuhair al-Siddiq, a key suspect in the Feb. 14, 2005 assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik al-Hariri (pictured), has reportedly been arrested in the United Arab Emirates.

AFP - A main suspect in the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri has been arrested in the United Arab Emirates, an Arab television station said on Sunday.

UAE-based Al Arabiya said Mohammed Zuhair al-Siddiq was arrested in the emirate of Sharjah and was being held by UAE security authorities. It gave no more details.

An international court convened in The Hague in March to try suspects in the murder, four years after the politician’s death.

Hariri and 22 other people were killed in a car bomb blast in Beirut on Feb. 14, 2005 that sparked an international outcry.

Many anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians accused Syria of being behind the bombing, a charge Damascus denied. But the protests and political pressure that mounted after the killing forced Syria to withdraw forces it had maintained in its smaller neighbour since 1976.

Lebanese authorities recently released on bail three men held in connection with the killing, but still hold four generals who were the commanders of Lebanon’s pro-Syrian security establishment at the time.

The whereabouts of Siddiq, a former Syrian intelligence officer, have been unknown since March 2008 when he left France.

Lebanon’s prosecutors believed Siddiq had an indirect role in the Feb. 14, 2005, killing of Hariri and 22 others, and they charged him with murder in October 2005.

Siddiq was arrested in a Paris suburb that month after an international arrest warrant was issued for him, but French judges rejected Beirut’s extradition request because they received no guarantees he would not face the death penalty.

He was freed in 2006. 

Date created : 2009-04-20

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