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Middle East

UN to probe Hezbollah over Hariri assassination, says Nasrallah

Video by Nicholas RUSHWORTH


Latest update : 2010-07-23

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (pictured) said Thursday that a UN tribunal investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri will target members of Hezbollah. Hariri and 22 others were killed by a 2005 bomb blast in Beirut.

AFP - Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Thursday that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told him a UN tribunal probing the murder of Hariri's ex-premier father, Rafiq, will accuse members of Nasrallah's militant party.

"I was personally informed by Prime Minister Hariri before his visit to Washington (in May) that the tribunal will accuse some undisciplined members" of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah said in a press conference via video link.

"That's where things seem to be heading," he said. "There is a dangerous project that is targeting the resistance," Nasrallah added, using the standard Lebanese term for Hezbollah.

"We are not at all afraid, nor are we worried. We know how to defend ourselves."

Nasrallah did not say why he had not made Hariri's remarks public before now.

He said Lebanon had been "led into a sensitive place ... through the Special Tribunal" for Lebanon, a UN probe into the assassination of ex-premier Hariri and 22 others in a massive bombing on the Beirut seafront on February 14, 2005.

The assassination provoked an international outcry and led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after a 29-year presence.

The UN tribunal's president, Antonio Cassese, has said he expects an indictment in the case between September and December, sparking fears in already tense Lebanon of a repeat of the violence that brought the country close to a new civil war in 2008.

In a speech earlier this month, Nasrallah accused Israel of interfering in the probe and slammed the tribunal's impending indictment as "fabricated."

Press reports over the past year have said the UN court was preparing to accuse Hezbollah operatives in the Hariri murder but the tribunal has dismissed them as "mere speculation."

Nasrallah has confirmed the team investigating the murder interrogated members of his party but had said previously he did not believe Hezbollah was in the tribunal's line of fire.

The Hariri murder has been widely blamed on Syria, a main backer of Hezbollah, although Damascus has roundly and consistently denied involvement.

A UN commission of inquiry had said it had evidence to implicate Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services prior to the tribunal's formation, but there are currently no suspects in custody.

Date created : 2010-07-22


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