BEIRUT: Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said Saturday four members of his group indicted by the U.N. court probing the assassination of statesman Rafik Hariri were unjustly accused, reiterating that the resistance would not cooperate with the tribunal, which he blasted as having links with Western intelligence agencies.
Speaking on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar Television, Nasrallah said the four men who were indicted Thursday had been victims of a corrupt and biased court aimed at tarnishing the image of "the anti-Israeli resistance."
“The four men have been unjustly accused,” Nasrallah said.
“[Those indicted] brothers of the resistance have a proud legacy in fighting the Israeli occupation in Lebanon.”
The Hezbollah chief, who has previously warned that his group would “cut off the hands” of anyone who tried to apprehend members of his group if indicted by the court, said the four would would never be arrested, but would be tried in absentia.
“They will not be able to arrest them in one year, two [years], nor in 30 or 300 years will they be able to arrest [them].”
An STL delegation Thursday handed Lebanon’s state prosecutor an indictment and arrest warrants for four suspects. Lebanon has 30 days to carry out the arrest warrants.
Nasrallah made use of the occasion to reiterate his earlier statements that the international court was a “U.S.-Israeli project” and had several objectives, but most importantly sowing civil strife between the different Muslim sects in the country.
“The most dangerous objective of the court is to instigate strife, a civil war or a Sunni-Shiite conflict in Lebanon,” Nasrallah said, adding that he would not allow the indictment to drag the country into unrest.
“There will not be sectarian strife in Lebanon, or between Sunnis and Shiites,” the Hezbollah chief said, accusing some Christians in the rival March 14 coalition of harboring dreams of such scenarios.
During the speech Nasrallah questioned the credibility of STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare and criticized the prosecutor’s team of investigators, whom Nasrallah claimed had ties to Western intelligence agencies and had worked against the resistance.
“If Bellemare was fair, he would have at least employed objective experts and advisers with no animosity or prejudice against any party that they are investigating,” Nasrallah said, adding that one of Bellemare’s consultants was an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency.
“One of Bellemare's consultants is a high-ranking officer in the CIA who [we] have accused of working against Hezbollah for 15 years and followed Imad Mughniyeh and is involved in the CIA massacre in Beer Abed [in Lebanon], which resulted in the death of dozens of people,” Nasrallah said.
The Hezbollah chief’s speech, which lasted over an hour, was interspersed with video presentations with evidence claiming to show how members of the STL had affiliations with Western intelligence agencies, including an Australian with alleged ties to a U.S. intelligence agency, a British investigator, claimed to be an expert on fighting Islamic terrorism, a former American officer, a French-Lebanese legal consultant for the STL who allegedly worked against the resistance and Robert Baer, who Nasrallah said was a CIA agent.
Nasrallah also took aim at Gerhard Lehman, the former deputy president of the investigative committee in the case of the assassination of Hariri.
“We will reveal a case ... where Lehman sold affidavits and confessions for money,” Nassrallah said before Al-Manar aired footage of Lehman allegedly receiving money in return for documents related to the investigation.
Nasrallah went on to question the motives behind the repeated leaks from the U.N.-backed court to the media, saying: “One of the most important conditions is the secrecy of the investigation and the whole world knows that nothing was secretive about this investigation since everything was published in [the media].”
He also said that the leaks to the media had been intentional and aimed at tarnishing the image of the resistance, adding that the timing of the leaks of the names of four Hezbollah members was a mechanism to harm and bring down Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s recently formed Cabinet.
The STL delegation handed over the indictment to Lebanese authorities on the day when the Cabinet was meeting to finalize and approve its policy statement.
One of Nasrallah’s most damning accusations targeted the president of the STL, Antonio Cassese, claiming that he was a “great friend” of Israel's.
“Cassese is a close friend of [many] Israelis,” Nasrallah said, adding that Cassese held prejudices against his group.
“The one who is supposed to govern the tribunal is a great friend of Israel and holds prejudices against the resistance,” Nasrallah said.
“He thinks the resistance is a terrorist organization … he is prejudiced and thinks we are terrorists,” he added.
“[The tribunal] is unprofessional and the indictment is merely a step toward more results of this American-Israeli court. It is an aggression against us and the resistance and we will not allow it to drag Lebanon into any strife. The only victim in this case is the martyr [former] Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.”