General challenges Hariri court over 'conspiracy'

13th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Lebanese general held for four years over the 2005 murder of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri before being released, told a UN court Tuesday he had been the target of a "grand conspiracy".

"When you have 10 false witnesses in an international investigation ... that would seem like a grand conspiracy," General Jamil el-Sayed, the ex-security services director, said at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague.

Sayed said he had been the victim of arbitrary detention and false testimony.

He asked the court to grant him access to the investigation files so he could seek legal recourse in the Lebanese courts and elsewhere.

A Lebanese judge ordered the general placed in temporary detention on August 30, 2005 on an arrest warrant issued at the request of an international, UN-created commission of inquiry into Hariri's murder.

But in April last year, the UN tribunal ordered the release of Sayed and three other generals, considered pro-Syrian, saying there was not sufficient evidence to keep them. The men had been held without charge since 2005.

Arguing for the prosecution, Darryl Mundis told the court on Tuesday it did not have the competence to entertain the general's request.

Hariri and 22 others were killed in a massive bombing on the Beirut seafront on February 14, 2005.

The assassination provoked a political crisis there that led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops after a 29-year presence in Lebanon.

The Hariri murder has been widely blamed on Syria, a main backer of Hezbollah, although Damascus has roundly denied involvement.

Judge Daniel Fransen is expected to rule on the general's application in a few weeks.

© 2010 AFP

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