Special Tribunal for Lebanon has issued long-awaited arrest warrants for those suspected of assassinating the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri in 2005.
The sealed arrest warrants were sent to the Lebanese Prosecutor-General to allow time for the Lebanese authorities to pursue the accused. Judge Fransen took the opportunity to remind observers that, while the indictment is indicative that a threshold of evidence against those named has been met, those named in the document are to be presumed innocent until proved guilty.
The Lebanese authorities now have 30 days before they are required to report to the tribunal on their efforts to make arrests.
The UN Secretary General insisted that the UN does not know the identity of the accused and underlined that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is an independent court set up at the request of the Lebanese government and with the support of the UN Security Council. He called on all states to co-operate with the legal process and provide their assistance to the STL.
Mr Hariri and 22 others people died when a car bomb with over 1000kg of explosives detonated next to the former PM’s motorcade in central Beirut on 14th February 2005.
The International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) was set up after the UN determined that other investigations into the bombing had been “seriously flawed”. The IIIC determined that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded the attack. Hizb’allah has also been implicated in the attack following a report in a Canadian newspaper. Hizb’allah supporters prevented STL investigators from fully investigating at a medical practice in the Beirut in 2010.