Hariri tribunal calls for greater efforts to arrest suspects

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Lebanese authorities should try harder to arrest four Hezbollah members wanted for the 2005 murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, the tribunal investigating the case said Thursday.

"The recent report by the Lebanese authorities on the steps that they have taken to search for the accused was... assessed by the STL president," the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) said in a statement.

"While Judge (Antonio) Cassese deemed their efforts to be reasonable, he also called on authorities to intensify their attempts to arrest the accused," the statement added.

Cassese ruled that "public advertisement of the indictment was now necessary" the text of which would be transmitted to Lebanese authorities.

"This must take place before a decision about in absentia proceedings can be taken," the Hague-based tribunal said.

Prosecutors had previously confirmed that they were indicting Salim Ayyash, 47, Mustafa Badreddine, 50, Hussein Anaissi, 37 and Assad Sabra, 34, for the 14 February 2005 suicide car bomb attack in Beirut that killed Hariri and 22 others. All four are members of the Iran-backed Shiite militia.

Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah which is now a key player in Lebanon's coalition government, has ruled out the arrest of the four suspects, hinting that the STL was heading for a trial in absentia.

He said late Wednesday that the tribunal lacked sufficient evidence to implicate members of his group.

© 2011 AFP

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