BEIRUT: Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah rejected Wednesday the unsealed indictment released earlier in the day by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), saying it lacked solid evidence.
“There is no real evidence … the only thing that the indictment is based on is telecoms data,” said Nasrallah, who spoke via video-link during an iftar sponsored by the Association to Support the Islamic Resistance.
The STL, established in 2007 to try suspects in the assassination of five-time Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, lifted earlier Wednesday confidentiality of its indictment against four members of Hezbollah: Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra.
The suspects are still at large and the Hezbollah chief has said that the four will not be apprehended but tried in absentia instead.
During the speech, broadcast by Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television, Nasrallah reiterated his praise for the four members of his group, describing them as honorable and innocent.
“This indictment only adds to our confidence that what is happening is a high level of injustice and politicization and these honorable members of the resistance should not even be accused.”
Nasrallah said the indictment had relied exclusively on telecoms data and thus opening the possibility of tampering of evidence.
“Throughout the years … It has been confirmed that Israel has great control over telecommunications in Lebanon and the ability to manipulate data and use people’s phones without their knowledge. This by itself challenges credibility of the indictment.”
The Hezbollah chief also reiterated a previous accusation of the STL having taken one sole course in its investigation, focusing on the resistance to the exclusion of other possible suspects, namely Israel.
“The STL has failed to take into consideration other circumstantial evidence [presented by Hezbollah] that might reveal Israel’s role in the assassination.” The Lebanese leader said.
“It is good that the indictment was made public so that people can read it and realize the grand operation that is being worked on by international, regional and local partners,” he added.
Hezbollah has refused to cooperate with The Netherlands-based court, describing it as an “U.S.-Israeli project” aimed at targeting the resistance.
The leader of Hezbollah also said the release of the details of the indictment had not been a surprise to him or many Lebanese, stressing the previous media reports that leaked details of the document.
“What has been published only confirms what has been said in previous months and two years ago that the investigation is not transparent and not scientific and it already has been published in Israeli and Arab newspapers and Der Spiegel,” Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah said leaked reports only added to his group’s argument that the U.N.-backed court lacked credibility and had lied about the secrecy of the investigation process.
“If we compare what has been published before [in news reports] with the real indictment [released Wednesday] then this refutes what the Special Tribunal said about the secrecy of the investigation,” he said.
Nasrallah also disregarded a call by Hariri’s son, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, to cooperate with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and help secure the surrender of the four members of his group.
Hours after the lifting of confidentiality on the indictment, Hariri asked Nasrallah to severe links between his group and the four suspects and to help secure their surrender.