Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Competing narratives in Malaysia Airlines disaster coverage

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is there such thing as 'telegenic' victims of war?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

Read more

  • US, European airlines suspend flights to Tel Aviv over Israel-Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • France gives go-ahead to pro-Palestinian Paris rally

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • Australian veteran Rogers claims 16th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • PSG punished by UEFA for abuse of disabled Chelsea fans

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

  • Five children among seven killed in minibus crash in eastern France

    Read more

  • Hollande says French warship delivery will ‘depend on Russia’s attitude’

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels release bodies, black boxes from flight MH17

    Read more

  • Notorious ‘VIP’ prison in Paris closed for renovations

    Read more

  • An ‘explosion of violence’: French press reacts to Gaza protests

    Read more

  • Christians in Iraq's Mosul face execution or exodus

    Read more

  • Scores killed as Libyan militias fight over airport

    Read more

Middle east

Prosecutors present key evidence on first day of Hariri murder trial

© AFP

Video by Julia SIEGER

Text by Thomas HUBERT

Latest update : 2014-01-16

The trial of four men accused of assassinating Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 other people in a 2005 car bomb attack opened before an international court in the Netherlands on Thursday.

Prosecutors at The Hague-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon (TSL) began to present evidence, which they say incriminates the four members of the pro-Syrian Shiite militant group Hezbollah, who are being tried in abstentia.

FRANCE 24 correspondent Catherine Norris-Trent was at the tribunal, which is housed in a converted basketball court inside a moated compound. She said: “The prosecution has gone through telephone data which they say will prove there was a plot to target Rafik Hariri,” then a prominent leader of the Sunni community.

“That’s expected to make up a large part of their case as there are no defendants present in court: the four men indicted as part of this case have never been arrested,” she added.

The current balance of power makes it unlikely that the Lebanese authorities will be able to bring Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Hussein Oneissi and Assad Sabra to court any time soon, according to FRANCE 24’s Beirut correspondent Lucy Fielder.

“Hezbollah have a very strong security network and the Lebanese state doesn’t have the strength to confront that,” she said, adding that circumstances may change in the future. The trial is expected to last years.

Graphic evidence

Prosecutors illustrated the February 14, 2005 attack with a scale model and graphic images of the Beirut street where Hariri died.

“We’ve seen pictures of his burning car and of his dead body covered by blankets at the scene, which caused people in the public gallery to burst into tears – victims’ families who’ve come from Lebanon for the start of this trial,” said Norris-Trent.

Among them was Hariri’s son Saad, himself a former Prime Minister of Lebanon between 2009 and 2011.

“We are very grateful that the international community agreed to help us. Soon, we will know who killed Rafik Hariri, who killed the leaders of the March 14 Alliance, and those responsible will pay for what they’ve done,” Saad Hariri said outside the court, referring to the string of attacks that targeted his father and other politicians hostile to Syrian influence in Lebanon in recent years.

FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Beirut reported that some Lebanese shared Saad Hariri’s expectations, while others ignored proceedings at the STL or regarded the court as a conspiracy against Shiite and Syrian interests in the country.

Among those who reject the prosecution’s case is General Jamil al Sayyed, who headed Lebanon’s General Security department at the time of Hariri’s assassination and was detained in connection with the attack but never charged.

“What happened in 2005 was that the blame for Hariri’s murder was put on Syria and pro-Syrian groups in Lebanon without any proof. Instead of investigating the case, they brought in false witnesses,” he told FRANCE 24.

Hezbollah has reportedly denied responsibility for Hariri’s killing, a seismic event in Lebanese history that fuelled sectarian tensions in the country.

Those tensions were apparent again on Thursday, just hours before the trial opened, when a suicide bomber killed three people in the Hezbollah stronghold of Hermel near the border with Syria.
 

Analysis: nine years since Rafik Hariri's murder

Date created : 2014-01-16

  • LEBANON

    Alleged killers of Lebanese PM face international court

    Read more

COMMENT(S)