Hariri indictment a 'milestone', says prosecutor

1st July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The prosecutor of the court set up to try Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri's killers said Friday the issuing of an indictment naming four Hezbollah members was an important milestone.

Daniel Bellemare welcomed the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's decision to confirm his indictment as "the first independent judicial review of the work of the office of the prosecutor," his office said in a statement.

"The decision of the pre-trial judge represents an important milestone," it added.

The tribunal, created at Lebanon's request by a 2007 UN Security Council resolution to find and try the former prime minister's killers, opened its doors in The Hague in 2009.

Bellemare had filed a first draft indictment to pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen on January 17. The document was amended three times and finally approved by Fransen on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the tribunal submitted the long-awaited indictment and arrest warrants to Lebanese Prosecutor General Said Mirza.

Four Hezbollah members were being charged, Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel confirmed to AFP on Friday: Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Assad Sabra and Hussein Anaissi.

Their whereabouts are unknown.

The Lebanese government was given 30 days to serve the warrants. If the suspects are not arrested within that period, the STL may publicly call on the accused to surrender.

Said Bellemare's office: "The confirmation of the indictment is only a second step in the judicial process. The office of the prosecutor's investigations are still ongoing and work continues to be ready for trial."

Hariri died in a massive car bombing that also killed 22 others on the Beirut seafront in February 2005.

© 2011 AFP

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