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  • » 11/16/2010, 00.00

    LEBANON

    Despite attacks, Patriarch Sfeir renews his support for international tribunal



    Tensions are rising in Lebanon over UN-backed special tribunal after rumours suggest some Hizbollah figures could be indicted in Hariri bombing. Hizbollah leader warns his movement will cut off the hands of anyone who tries to get at its members.

    Beirut (AsiaNews) – Tensions are still rising over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), an international court set up under the auspices of the United Nations to investigate and try the people accused of masterminding and carrying out a terrorist attack that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 other people on 14 February 2005.

    On his way to the Vatican, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir defended the STL, saying that “justice shall be done”. His words follow suite those of Lebanon’s current Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, Rafik Hariri’s son, who renewed his support for the international court. By contrast, Hizbollah’s top leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, continued using threatening language. For him, “The hand that attempts to reach (our members) will be cut off”.

    Such remarks come after rumours spread that the STL would soon lay charges, this month or next at the latest, against one or more Hizbollah members, purportedly involved in the Hariri attack.

    Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported in fact that investigators were “likely to indict between two and six members of the Shi'ite Muslim militia before the end of the year,” including Mustafa Badreddine, brother-in-law of Imad Mugniyeh, head of Hizbollah’s security force, who was wanted in the US for masterminding a string of terror attacks before he was mysteriously assassinated in Damascus in 2008.

    In his statement, Card Sfeir simply reiterated his support for the STL, a position that has led to attacks in the media against him. Aware of the situation, the patriarch said that he expects more of the same, but that he would not back down. Related to this, the prelate flatly dismissed rumours that his visit to Vatican was in connection to his possible retirement.

    The latest statements by the Hizbollah leader, who can count on an armed militias that is stronger than the Lebanese army, are part of an ongoing campaign he launched against his party’s critics and his tendency to treat STL supporters as traitors. In fact, for Hassan Nasrallah, the international tribunal is a tool in the hands of the United States and Israel.

    In Israel, Israel Defence Forces chief Gabi Ashkenazi on Monday said that the indictment of Hizbollah officials could lead to a coup and see Lebanon taken over by the militant group. (PD)

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    See also

    22/07/2010 LEBANON – SYRIA – IRAN
    Tensions rise in Lebanon over possible Hizbollah involvement in Hariri assassination
    The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is set to indict some Hizbollah leaders for their alleged involvement in the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister. The Doha agreement could fall apart over the matter. In this context, Syria appears to be shifting its regional alliances away from Tehran and Hizbollah.

    26/11/2010 LEBANON
    Tensions running high in Beirut as Hariri indictments approach
    Rumours about the involvement of Hizbollah officials in the Hariri murder have paralysed the government in some measure as the opposition boycotts the cabinet. However, in Lebanon few fear a possible coup by Hizbollah. The ongoing struggle involves regional and world powers.

    25/11/2010 LEBANON – TURKEY
    Erdogan in Beirut, a mediator on a Neo-Ottoman quest
    Local politicians and public opinion praise the Turkish prime minister, who stressed historic ties between the two countries and his desire to do “everything” to preserve Lebanon’s unity and peace. For Erdogan, Beirut is an important step to reassert Turkey’s role in the region.

    30/06/2011 LEBANON
    Hariri assassination: arrest warrants for four members of Hizbollah
    The UN’s Special Tribunal for Lebanon issues the arrest warrants. Saad Hariri, son of Lebanon’s slain prime minister, who is himself a former prime minister, is pleased by the decision, calling it an “historic moment”. The newly formed pro-Syrian, Shia-dominated cabinet is now at risk. The political confrontation could bring chaos to the country.

    21/10/2010 LEBANON
    UN tribunal reconstructs blast that killed Rafik Hariri
    The Special Tribunal for Lebanon continues its investigation into the murder of the Lebanese leader. Hizbollah continues to put pressure on Prime Minister Saad Hariri to distance himself from the tribunal, demanding that it look into possible Israeli involvement.



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