Nine years from Hariri's murder to the trial

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The trial of five defendants by a UN-backed court probing the 2005 murder of Lebanon's ex-premier Rafiq Hariri is to begin on January 16.

Here are key dates since Hariri's assassination:

2005

- February 14: Hariri is killed in a Beirut bombing along with 22 others. Opposition leaders blame Syria but Damascus denies any role in the killing. - April 26: International pressure and popular protests drive Syrian troops out of Lebanon after a 29-year deployment.

- December 12: Faced with bitter domestic inter-religious divisions, Lebanon asks the United Nations to create an international tribunal.

2007

- May 30: The UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon is approved under resolution 1757. The STL is the first international court with jurisdiction over the crime of terrorism and the first to try suspects in absentia.

2009

- March 1: The court opens its doors in Leidschendam, near The Hague. The government of Lebanon covers 49 percent of the cost, other countries pay the rest.

2011

- January 17: STL prosecutors file an initial, sealed indictment that does not name suspects. Prosecutors file amended indictments on March 11 and May 6, and the court publishes the full indictment on August 17.

- June 30: The STL sends sealed indictments and arrest warrants to the Lebanese prosecutor general.

- July 29: The court confirms the identity of Hezbollah suspects. They are Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Hussein Anaissi, and Assad Sabra.

Ayyash and Badreddine face five charges, which include "committing a terrorist act by means of an explosive device; intentional homicide of Rafiq Hariri with premeditation by using explosive materials."

Anaissi and Sabra face a charge of conspiracy to commit a terrorist act.

2012

- February 1: The court says it will try the four suspects in their absence.

- July 19: The STL sets March 25, 2013 as a provisional date for the trial to begin. The date changed twice, to January 16, 2014.

2013

- October 10: The STL confirms that a fifth wanted suspect, Hassan Habib Merhi, has been indicted. He is accused of preparing and distributing a video that falsely claimed responsibility for the attack to throw off investigators.


© 2014 AFP

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