BEIRUT: Syria’s intelligence chief ordered Lebanese police to close the investigation into the car bombing that almost killed a prominent former minister because either Israel did it or he “did it to himself,” judges at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon were told Monday.
MP Marwan Hamade, a former economy minister and adviser to the assassinated premier Rafik Hariri who survived a car bombing in October 2004, said police took a five-minute statement from him before apparently abandoning the investigation.
He said that then-Internal Security Forces chief Marwan al-Zein told him that the order to close the investigation came from Syria’s military intelligence chief in Lebanon, Rustom Ghazaleh.
Ghazaleh reportedly told Zein that the investigation was a waste of time because either Israel was responsible or Hamade had orchestrated the bombing himself.
Hamade, who was testifying in The Hague before the STL, said that Hariri and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt interpreted the assassination attempt as a warning to abandon their path of trying to contain Syria’s influence in Lebanon.
Hamade is testifying on the breakdown of relations between Syria’s President Bashar Assad and Hariri in the run-up to the latter’s assassination. The testimony is part of the trial in absentia of five members of Hezbollah accused of complicity in the Valentine’s Day bombing in 2005 that killed Hariri and 21 others and led to massive street protests that ended Syria’s tutelage in Lebanon.