UN tribunal says Syrian government, Hezbollah not involved in Hariri assassination

Some supporters of the slain prime minister protested the verdict in Beirut on Tuesday.

al-monitor A man rides a motorbike past a billboard bearing a picture of slain Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, on a street in his southern hometown city of Sidon (Saida), on Aug. 18, 2020.  Photo by MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP via Getty Images.

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beirut, damascus, assassination, saad hariri, rafik hariri, bombing, hezbollah in lebanon

Aug 18, 2020

A UN-backed tribunal convicted on Tuesday a Hezbollah affiliate in the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The tribunal in the Netherlands also said the leadership of the Lebanese group and the Syrian government were not involved in the attack.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon declared that Salim Jamil Ayyash, who the court said was affiliated with the political and military organization Hezbollah, played a key role in the killing. Three other defendants were found not guilty, Reuters reported.

Hariri was killed in a bombing of his motorcade in Beirut in 2005. The powerful businessman had ties to Saudi Arabia and was a prominent Sunni Muslim politician in the country following the civil war that ended in 1990. His son, Saad, also served as prime minister.

Hariri’s ties to the Gulf made him a rival of the Iran-backed Hezbollah and Syrian government. Syria withdrew its forces from Lebanon shortly after the assassination following massive protests.

The tribunal also said it did not find evidence that Hezbollah and Damascus played a role in the assassination of Hariri.

Some Lebanese reacted with anger at the tribunal’s decision. Hariri supporters demonstrated in Beirut on Tuesday in opposition to the verdict.

Hariri had called for Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, and the court said the decision to kill him was related to this, according to Reuters.

Ayyash and the others on trial were not present for the ruling, making it unclear what effect the decision will have.

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