Hariri killing indictment ready within weeks: tribunal clerk

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An indictment for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri should be served within a matter of weeks, a UN-backed tribunal said on Thursday.

Hariri was assassinated in a massive car bombing in Beirut that also killed another 22 people, and the Netherlands-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon is tasked with finding who was responsible.

"Everyone is waiting for the moment when the prosecutor is going (to come) out with an indictment," the clerk of the court, Herman von Hebel, told reporters.

"Of course I cannot give any date, there is no date yet, but what I can tell you is: it is very, very soon.

"We are not talking about months and months again. We are really talking about weeks."

The indictment would be confidential at least until it is confirmed by the pre-trial judge, he said adding that a trial could open four to six months after the confirmation, "maybe September or October, something like that, at some point of the second half of the year".

He said the estimates were based on the experience at other international courts. "It really depends on the developments of the court next year," he said.

Several foreign media, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), have reported that the tribunal will indict members of the powerful Shiite militant group, Hezbollah, in connection with the murder.

Hezbollah, which fought a 2006 war with Israel, has warned any such accusation would have grave repercussions in Lebanon.

But von Hebel said: "This tribunal is not targeting a particular group of people, it is about finding out who has been involved in the attack against Mr Hariri".

"We are talking about individual responsability not about group responsability."

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is based on the outskirts of The Hague, was created in 2007 following a UN resolution.

© 2010 AFP

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