06/30/2011, 00.00
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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.
Beirut (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The UN-Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) investigating the 2005 murder of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has issued arrest warrants against four Hizbollah officials. Mr Hariri's son, Saad, welcomed the indictments, describing them as a "historic moment" for the country. However, the decision will weigh heavily on the newly formed, Hizbollah-backed cabinet and could spark a new bloody civil war.

This morning, three STL judges issued sealed indictments, handing over their report to Lebanon’s state prosecutor Saeed Mirza.

Local sources said that the four men implicated are Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Hassan Issa, and Assad Sabra. All of them are prominent members of Hizbollah, and are accused of playing an active role in planning and executing the attack.

On 14 February 2005, a car bomb ripped through parts of Beirut, killing former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 other people, including many members of his armed guard.

Suspicions fell immediately on extremist Shia group Hizbollah and Syrian secret services, despite Damascus’ repeated denials.

The STL is based near The Hague (Netherlands) and has been denounced by Shia extremists, who refuse to recognise its jurisdiction.

In Lebanon, divisions regarding the tribunal have caused social unrest and political confrontation several times over the years.

In the wake of the news, current Prime Minister Nagib Mikati has called on the Lebanese people to show unity and wisdom to avoid further divisions and internal conflicts.

Hizbollah and its allies dominate the new pro-Syrian cabinet Mikati put together after five months of talks and stalemate.

Now Lebanese judicial authorities have 30 days to execute the orders, during which time the new cabinet is set to go before parliament to present its programme.

Whilst the indictments might jeopardise the survival of the new government, its impact on Lebanon’s future might even be worse and plunge the country into a new and bloody war.
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