Four years after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister
Rafik Hariri, a special United Nations court is opening its doors in
the Netherlands on Sunday to judge the suspects.
assassination of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri shook the
world - and led to profound changes in Lebanon, including the departure
of Syria's occupying troops. Four years later, the United Nation's
Special Tribunal for Lebanon opens its doors - in perhaps the first
time a United Nations court has been established targeting a single
Lebanon had been holding seven suspects in Mr.
Hariri's killing, but it released three civilians on Wednesday. Still
being held are four former top Lebanese intelligence and security
A probe into Mr. Hariri's 2005 assassination
initially implicated senior Syrian officials, but Damascus has
adamantly rejected any involvement.
Nahim Shehdi, a Middle East
analyst for the London-based think tank Chatham House, says the new
tribunal has no jurisdiction over anyone outside of Lebanon. Still, he
believes that even its establishment is an achievement.
main thing is the advantage of the tribunal. That it symbolizes a kind
of international protection or responsibility of protection of Lebanon
after all these assassinations have been happening in the past four
years," said Shehdi.
Mr. Hariri's killing shook Lebanon, a
country that had already weathered a 15-year civil war. Shehadi said it
also shook the world.
"The UN is setting up a special tribunal
for Lebanon for the assassination of one person, basically. Usually
these tribunals are set up for genocides - like the Rwandan for example
- or civil war or ethnic cleansing. And this is being done for one man.
And this is an indication of how important his assassination was as an
event, not just for Lebanon, but also internationally," said Shehdi.
The tribunal has already nominated seven judges, four of them from Lebanon. The trial is expected to last several years.