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Middle east

Hezbollah chief blasts Hariri investigation

Latest update : 2009-05-02

Hassan Nasrallah, the powerful head of the Shiite Hezbollah group, has attacked the international investigation into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafiq al-Hariri as biased, dismissing Wednesday's release of four suspects.

AFP - Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday said a decision by a UN-backed court to free Lebanese officers held over the murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri does not mean the tribunal is "honest."
  
Nasrallah also called anew on the Lebanese authorities to widen its investigation into the 2005 assassination of Hariri to probe a possible involvement by Hezbollah's archfoe Israel.
  
On Wednesday the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon based in The Hague ordered the release of four Lebanese officers jailed since almost four years saying there was insufficient evidence to charge them.
  
Their release "is proof that... their detention was political," Nasrallah said in a speech aired on Hezbollah's Al-Manar television.
  
"The decision that was announced... does not mean that the court is honest," he said, adding that the court's decision "ended a black phase."
  
"But today is a new start and we will not pre-judge the court, positively or negatively," he said calling on the prosecution and the investigation to show "they are far removed from politics."
  
The four officers, considered pro-Syrian, released on Wednesday are the former head of the presidential guard, Mustafa Hamdan, 53, security services director Jamil Sayyed, 58, domestic security chief Ali Hajj, 52, and military intelligence chief Raymond Azar, 56.
  
Nasrallah also asked the investigation into Hariri's murder to take into account the possibility that Israel was behind the massive Beirut bombing that killed the former premier and 22 other people.
  
"Whoever says that Israel did not have the motive or interest in killing Hariri would be killing Hariri a second time," he said.
  
Syria was widely blamed for Hariri's murder. Damascus has repeatedly denied any involvement but two months after the assassination it pulled its troops from Lebanon ending almost three decades of military domination.
  
"Does Israel have the motive? Yes of course. Does Israel have an interest? Yes of course," Nasrallah said.
  
Nasrallah also called on Lebanese political rivals "to cooperate to unveil the truth" about Hariri's murder.
  
The officers were released as Lebanon prepares for crucial parliamentary elections on June 7 that will pit the Western-backed parliamentary majority headed by Hariri's son Saad against a Hezbollah-led alliance backed by Syria and Iran.

Date created : 2009-05-02

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