BEIRUT: The U.N.-backed court probing the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri released Friday the names, charges and detailed information of the four Lebanese individuals indicted by the court late June.
“These are the four individuals named in the indictment: Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, Assad Hassan Sabra,” a statement by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) said.
“The Prosecution alleges that the four individuals named in the indictment were involved in the 14 February 2005 attack that killed the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and others,” the statement, posted on the court’s website, added.
The names of the four men were leaked to the media on the day the international court handed Lebanon sealed indictments and arrest warrants against the four members to State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza. Lebanon should report on the progress made in carrying out the arrest warrants on Aug. 11.
On July 3, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah confirmed that the four names leaked to the press were members of his group but said they would never be apprehended, “not even in 300 years.”
Describing the four as having fought valiantly against Israel’s occupation of Lebanon, Nasrallah said the four would instead be tried in absentia.
The STL also released a “statement of reasons” justifying the release of the suspects’ details saying that making the requested information available to the public might increase the likelihood of apprehending the suspects.
“The pre-trial Judge considers that there are no reasons not to grant the request of the prosecutor [Daniel Bellemare] for partial variation of the order on confidentiality, as it appears that the prosecutor has carefully considered the effects that revealing the identities and personal information of the accused would have on the ongoing investigation and on any attempts to arrest the accused,” the statement said, adding that some parts of the indictment would remain confidential as they might hinder ongoing investigations.
Hezbollah has repeatedly slammed the tribunal as a “U.S.-Israeli” project aimed at targeting the resistance group, and has vowed not to cooperate with the court.
The STL, established in 2007 under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1757, has been a point of contention among the country’s rival political parties and led to the collapse of the government of Hariri’s son, Saad Hariri, who leads the March 14 alliance, early this year.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Hariri’s successor, has said that his government will cooperate with the STL and apprehend the suspects if they are in Lebanon and has rejected accusations that Hezbollah was “impeding” the government’s cooperation with the STL.
Hezbollah refused to comment on the news of the release of the names by the STL.
“We are not giving statements at the present time,” Hezbollah MP Nawaf Moussawi told The Daily Star by telephone.
MP Ammar Houri, a member of Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, said the release of the details of the four men reflected the transparency of the Netherlands- based court, adding that Hezbollah’s leader should now respond to the court’s decision.
“I believe he [Nasrallah] should respond to the indictment if he is concerned with [Lebanon’s] stability and justice,” Houri told The Daily Star.
Addressing the four Hezbollah suspects, Houri said: “We tell them again that you should enjoy the right of the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.” - Additional reporting by Rima Aboulmona.
Click here for complete profiles of the four suspects.