In February 2005, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed when a huge truck bomb blew up in Beirut. Hariri, a billionaire construction tycoon, was Prime Minister from 1992 until 1998 and again between 2000 and October 2004.

A Hezbollah supporter has been found guilty on all counts by a Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the Netherlands but three other men have been acquitted.

​On February 14, 2005, Mr Hariri and 21 others were killed when a truck bomb as he drove through downtown Beirut. More than 200 people were wounded.

Salim Ayyash, 56, has been convicted on all nine counts but Assad Sabra, 43, Hassan Oneissi, 46, and Hassan Habib Merhi, 54, have been found not guilty.

​All had been tried in absentia. Their whereabouts are unknown.

Charges were dropped against a fifth suspect, Mustafa Badreddine, after he was killed during the Syrian civil war in 2016.

​On Tuesday, August 18, Judge David Re, an Australian, said the bombing was “undoubtedly a political act” and he said the evidence showed Syria was dominant in Lebanon at the time and opponents of the Syrian presence included Mr Hariri’s Future Movement.

“The trial chamber is of the view that Syria and Hezbollah may have had motives to eliminate Mr Hariri and some of his allies. However, there was no evidence that the Hezbollah leadership had any involvement in Mr Haririr’s murder and there is no direct evidence of Syrian involvement in it,” said Judge Re.

Judge Re said the decision to kill Mr Hariri “would not have been taken lightly” as he had several powerful allies in the US, France and Saudi Arabia.

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The judge said Mr Hariri was planning to run in the May 2005 elections and would have campaigned for a reduction in Damascus’s influence and the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

Judge Re said it was “highly likely” the decision to go ahead with the assassination was only taken after the third so-called Bristol Group meeting of Mr Hariri and his political allies in early February.

Judge Re said Mr Hariri was planning to run in the May 2005 elections and would have campaigned for a reduction in Damascus’s influence and the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

President Assad has always denied any involvement in the assassination but in the wake of Hariri’s death a so-called Cedar Revolution saw widespread protests against Syria, which withdrew the last of its troops from Lebanese soil in April 2005.

 

Source: Sputnik

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