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Hezbollah operative receives life sentences for Hariri assassination

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon at the Hague had already convicted Salim Jamil Ayyash for involvement in the 2005 car-bomb assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister.

A Hezbollah operative convicted in the killing of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Salim Jamil Ayyash was sentenced Friday to five life sentences by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon at the Hague.

Ayyash was tried in absentia and remains “at large,” a spokesman for the UN secretary-general said Friday.

The concurrent sentences are for each of his convictions, which include homicide and terrorism. Ayyash was found guilty by the tribunal in August.

Hariri was killed by a car bomb in 2005 in Beirut; 21 other people also died in the fatal explosion. The incident sent shock waves throughout the Middle East. Hariri was an ally of Saudi Arabia and a critic of Syria’s past occupation of Lebanon.

Court documents said Ayyash was “affiliated with Hezbollah.” The Lebanese political and military organization and Syrian government ally denied involvement in Hariri’s murder. Ayyash’s lawyers said they would appeal the conviction, Reuters reported.

The court said in August that it did not find evidence that Hezbollah and Syria's leadership were involved in the assassination.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon was established following a request from the Lebanese government and is independent. 

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