• Bassam Radi, Managing Editor

Rafik Hariri tribunal: Guilty verdict over assassination of Lebanon ex-PM

One of the four men accused of killing a former Lebanese prime minister in Beirut in 2005 has been convicted by a special UN-backed court.


Salim Ayyash and the others accused are from the Shia militant group Hezbollah, had been on trial in absentia since 2014.

The killing of Rafik Hariri had caused an outrage across the country, and the verdict has come at a time of deep political crisis in Lebanon.


Rafik's son Saad, who himself is a former prime minister, said he had accepted the verdict, but expected more information to emerge from the trial.

"I think everybody's expectation was much higher than what came out, but I believe that the tribunal came out with a result that is satisfying," he told reporters.


Ayyash was found guilty of conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, murdering Hariri, murdering 21 others and attempting to murder 226 more in the suicide car bombing on 14 February.


The judges said evidence showed Ayyash had possessed one of six mobile phones used by the team which assassinated Hariri.


Alongside Ayyash, the three other defendants - Hussein Hassan Oneissi, Assad Hassan Sabra and Hassan Habib Merhi - were acquitted by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), based on the outskirts of The Hague in The Netherlands.


A fifth man - Mustafa Badreddine, the commander of Hezbollah's military wing - was dropped from the indictment after he was killed in Syria in 2016. Prosecutors had described him as "overall controller of the operation" to assassinate Hariri.



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