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UN Promises Justice in Lebanon's Hariri Trial

A United Nations special prosecutor has pledged to find the truth behind the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Daniel Bellemare issued a statement Friday saying his team will do everything possible to ensure that justice is served.

Bellemare is the chief prosecutor of a special U.N. tribunal that will begin trying the case in The Hague, Netherlands, on Sunday.

The special court is tasked with investigating the massive truck bombing that killed Mr. Hariri and 22 others in Beirut on February 14, 2005. Its mandate can be expanded to related crimes only under strict conditions and within a set timeframe.

U.S. President Barack Obama called Lebanese President Michel Suleiman on Thursday to express his support for the tribunal.

The rights group Amnesty International on Friday said the tribunal is a positive step, but its focus is too narrow to gain public confidence.  Amnesty said other measures are needed to "address the grave human rights abuses of the past, as well as those that continue in the present."

On Thursday, Lebanon's justice minister said he is confident the tribunal will determine who killed Mr. Hariri. Ibrahim Najjar also said Lebanon will fully cooperate with the special court.

Many Lebanese blame Syria for the attack.  Syria has denied responsibility.  But pressure from Lebanon and the United Nations led Syria to pull its 14,000 troops out of Lebanon less than three months after the assassination.  

On Wednesday, a Lebanese judge ordered the release on bail of three suspects held in connection with the assassination. The judge did not give any reasons for releasing the three civilians.

In a separate ruling on Friday, the same judge, Saqr Saqr, denied an appeal to release four other suspects, all pro-Syrian Lebanese generals.

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