Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri convicted at a tribunal in the Netherlands
The lead suspect within the 2005 bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was convicted at a tribunal within the Netherlands on Tuesday.
Salim Jamil Ayyash was found guilty of being a part of the “red telephone network” involved within the planning of Hariri’s assassination.
The other three defendants, Assad Sabra, Hassan Oneissi and Hassan Habib Merei, were found acquitted at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) within the Hague. The hearing ruled that there was no evidence of their involvement within the bombing.
The assassination of Hariri was a seismic event in Lebanese history. The billionaire statesman was killed on Valentine Day , 2005 when a bomb struck his motorcade near the Beirut seafront. The blast ripped apart his armored car and destroyed the motorcade, killing 21 people and wounding quite 200 others.
Judge David Re said Hariri’s killing was “undoubtedly a political act”.
But he said there was no evidence that Iran-backed group Hezbollah or the Syrian government had any involvement within the assassination, despite both having possible motives.
“Syria and Hezbollah may have had motives to eliminate Mr. Hariri, and a few of his political allies. However, there was no evidence that Hezbollah leadership had any involvement in Mr. Hariri’s murder and there’s no evidence of Syrian involvement in it,” the judge said.
From 1993 to 2005, Hariri paid “millions folks dollars” to Syrian Chief of Intelligence in Lebanon Rustum Ghazaleh, and he had doubled his monthly amount on the day before his assassination, the judge added.
“The payments were seen as a sort of blackmail necessary to preserve the connection ,” Re said.
One of the individuals involved within the conspiracy to assassinate Hariri was Mustafa Badreddine who, consistent with the STL, coordinated surveillance of Hariri and was killed in Syria in 2016. consistent with the US Department of the Treasury , Badreddine was liable for coordinating military activities for Hezbollah in Syria. He was listed as a suspect within the assassination until his death was announced.
Speaking after the decision was announced, Hariri’s son, Saad Hariri — also a former Prime Minister of Lebanon — told reporters the result was “satisfying.”
“Everybody’s expectation was much above what came out, but i think the tribunal came out with a result that’s satisfying. We accept it,” Saad Hariri told reporters within the Hague Tuesday.
“For the primary time within the history of the various political assassinations that Lebanon has witnessed, the Lebanese know the reality , and for the primary time, true justice has prevailed,” Saad Hariri added during a statement.