Hariri UN tribunal judge confirms Hezbollah suspects' names
The UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 death of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri on Friday confirmed the names of four Hezbollah suspects indicted in the case and the charges against them.
Pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen ordered confidentiality around the charges against Salim Ayyash, 47, Mustafa Badreddine, 50, Hussein Anaissi, 37 and Assad Sabra, 34, be dropped.
"Fransen ordered the lifting of confidentiality on the full names and aliases, biographical information, photographs and charges against the individuals named in the indictment," the Hague-based tribunal said in a statement, a month after Lebanese authorities first revealed the names.
Prosecutors for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) alleged the four men named in the indictment were involved in the February 14, 2005 attack that killed Hariri and 22 others in a bomb blast.
The four are operatives of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, including Badreddine, a brother-in-law of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh who was assassinated in Damascus in 2008.
Ayyash and Badreddine face five charges, the STL said, including "conspiracy aimed at committing a terrorist act; committing a terrorist act by means of an explosive device; intentional homicide of Rafiq Hariri with premeditation by using explosive materials; intentional homicide of 21 persons in addition to Rafiq Hariri with premeditation by using explosive materials; and attempted intentional homicide of 231 persons with premeditation by using explosive materials."
Anaissi and Sabra also face a charge of conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and are accused of being accomplices in the other four other charges levelled against Ayyash and Badreddine.
The names of the four, whose whereabouts are not known, were revealed by the Lebanese government late last month after being leaked to local media following a tribunal confirmation on June 30 that it had submitted a confidential indictment and arrest warrants to Lebanese authorities.
On July 8, the judge issued an international arrest warrant against the accused and it authorised the prosecutor's office to give it to Interpol to issue a "red notice" on the suspects.
"The order states that prosecutor Daniel A. Bellemare, after consultations with the Lebanese prosecutor general, indicated that lifting the confidentiality of this information 'does not contradict Lebanese law with regards to the executed arrests'," the STL said.
It added that "making the information available to the public may increase the likelihood of the accused being apprehended."
Bellemare first submitted his indictment for review by Fransen on January 17, 2011.
Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, said earlier this month he would never hand over the four members of his group, adding that The Netherlands-based tribunal was heading for a trial in absentia.
© 2011 AFP