Hezbollah named in Hariri charges expected soon: report

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Draft charges hinting at Hezbollah in the 2005 murder of Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri are likely to be presented under wraps to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Monday, French daily Le Monde reported.

Citing sources close to the tribunal, the newspaper said on Saturday that prosecutor Daniel Bellemare will present the findings of his probe into the murder to pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen at a hearing behind closed doors in The Hague, where the tribunal is based for security reasons.

"According to several sources close to the office of the prosecutor, the charges target members of Hezbollah," it said.

The Shiite militant group and its allies withdrew from the Lebanese cabinet on Wednesday in protest against an ongoing UN-backed investigation, prompting the collapse of the unity government led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of the murdered former premier.

According to the tribunal's rules of procedure, Fransen will next be tasked with confirming the confidential indictment before any arrest warrants or summonses to appear can be issued.

The tribunal was created by a 2007 UN Security Council resolution to find and try the killers of Hariri, assassinated in a massive car bombing on the Beirut seafront on February 14, 2005 that also killed 22 other people.

Hezbollah, which dismisses the tribunal as part of a US-Israeli plot, has repeatedly stated it would not accept an of its members and warned of repercussions, raising regional fears of renewed Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned in November the group will "cut off the hand" of anyone who tries to arrest any of its partisans for the Hariri killing.

© 2011 AFP

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