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Hariri killing trial opens with Lebanon tensions high

AFP | Last Updated: Friday, January 17, 2014 - 05:04

Leidschendam: Four Hezbollah members went on trial in absentia at a special UN tribunal on today, accused of murdering Lebanon`s former premier Rafiq Hariri in a 2005 car bombing that shook the Middle East.
The trial opened in a suburb outside The Hague nine years after the huge Beirut blast that killed billionaire Hariri and just hours after another deadly car bombing in a Hezbollah stronghold near war-ravaged Syria.

Hariri`s son Saad -- who himself was prime minister 2009-2011 -- was also in court as the repeatedly-delayed proceedings began, sitting behind the victims` representative.

He told in an interview that through the trial, "you see justice, finally finding its way in a country like Lebanon."

"For the past 50 years we`ve had assassination after assassination with no justice, impunity was there, the norm. Today we see, that no, there is a chance where we will see justice finally in Lebanon."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also welcomed the opening of the trial, stressed "the vital importance of combating impunity for the long-term stability and security of Lebanon".

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is unique in international justice as it was set up to try the perpetrators of a terrorist attack and because it can try the suspects in absentia.

Hariri, Lebanon`s Sunni prime minister until his resignation in October 2004, was on his way home for lunch when a suicide bomber detonated a van full of explosives equivalent to 2.5 tonnes of TNT as his armoured convoy passed.

The February 14, 2005 seafront blast killed 22 people as well as Damascus opponent Hariri and wounded 226, leading to the establishment by the UN Security Council of the STL in 2007.

First Published: Friday, January 17, 2014 - 05:04

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