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Lebanese Officials Demand Arrest Warrants Against Convicted Hariri Killers

Lebanese Officials Demand Arrest Warrants Against Convicted Hariri Killers

Saturday, 18 June, 2022 - 05:15
Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri and Bahiya al-Hariri, the sister of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, pray at his grave, during the 16th anniversary of his assassination, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon February 14, 2021. (Reuters)

Lebanese former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora urged on Friday the judiciary to issue arrest warrants against the convicted killers of ex-Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

He also called on Lebanese authorities to arrest them and bring them to justice.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) appeals judges had on Thursday sentenced two Hezbollah members in absentia to life imprisonment for their role in the 2005 assassination of Hariri

Hariri served as prime minister of Lebanon five times following the 1975-90 civil war. He and 21 others died in a massive truck bomb on Feb. 14, 2005.

"The attack terrorized not only the direct victims but more generally the people of Lebanon," STL presiding judge Ivana Hrdlickova said as she handed down the maximum sentence on Hassan Habib Merhi and Hussein Hassan Oneissi.

Hezbollah has long dismissed the STL and said it was not concerned with its rulings. It has vowed that the suspects will never be found.

Lebanese authorities have failed in arresting any of the fugitives.

Member of the Democratic Gathering MP Marwan Hamadeh, a survivor of an assassination attempt in 2004, announced Friday that he would debrief the caretaker government over the issue on Monday.

In a statement, he said he would submit the request after STL Prosecutor Norman Farrell called on parties protecting the three accused to turn them over to the tribunal.

The third suspect is Salim Ayyash, another Hezbollah member, who was convicted of Hariri’s murder in 2020 and sentenced to life.

Hamadeh said he will call on the justice minister to take the necessary legal and judicial measures in line with the STL ruling.

Siniora said the ruling “proved right the decision to turn to international justice to search for the truth” in Hariri’s assassination.

Despite the time it took, the court managed to reveal the truth behind the murder, as the Lebanese judiciary stood helpless in revealing the simplest and most obvious of crimes and truths.

He urged the judiciary to respect international agreements and pledges towards the international community and arrest the convicts.

He warned that Hezbollah’s failure to respect international justice and the STL will undermine the credibility of the Lebanese justice system.

Hariri’s son, former PM Saad al-Hariri, tweeted that the sentence is clear in condemning Hezbollah as the mastermind behind the assassination.

The party cannot shy away from its responsibility in turning over the convicts, he added, saying: “History will not be merciful”.

MP and former Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said Rafik al-Hariri's murder and the 2020 Beirut port explosion bear the same hallmarks.

“The Lebanese people’s ability to persevere is more powerful than the hegemony of Hezbollah,” he said in a series of tweets.

He said the Iran-backed party is the real ruler in Lebanon and it has brought “puppets” to power so that they can provide it with political cover.

“Everyone knows who stands behind the majority of the crimes in Lebanon,” he remarked.

“We are determined in achieving justice and we are still shouldering our responsibilities,” he declared.

“The Lebanese political class is a failure and the Lebanese people will not remain silent,” he added.

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