News / Middle East

Hariri Assassination Trial Opens in The Hague

Judges (top row, L-R) Walid Akoum, Janet Nosworthy, David Re, Micheline Braidi and Nicola Lettier preside over the courtroom of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague, The Netherlands, Jan. 16, 2014.
Judges (top row, L-R) Walid Akoum, Janet Nosworthy, David Re, Micheline Braidi and Nicola Lettier preside over the courtroom of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague, The Netherlands, Jan. 16, 2014.
Lisa Bryant
A suicide bombing in northern Lebanon Thursday coincided with the start of a much awaited trial in The Hague. Four men are accused in absentia of plotting the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Some fear the trial at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon risks further fueling deadly sectarian violence in the Middle Eastern country.

The prosecution at The Hague trial played footage of the moments after a powerful car bomb shook Beirut's waterfront nearly nine years ago. The blast killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others.

Scores more were wounded. Images showed anguished people trying to rescue victims, charred and mangled vehicles, and the body of  Hariri covered by a blanket.

Hariri's son, the former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, attended the trial's opening at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on the outskirts of the Dutch city. So did family members of other victims.

Prosecutor Norman Farrell said those responsible for the blast used an enormous amount of high explosives, deliberately aimed to kill ordinary citizens as well as the prime minister.

"The case against the accused… is built on a number of different strands of evidence, understood in their relation to each other and in their totality," he said. "Each reinforces the other… [it] is the numerous pieces of reinforcing evidence, including the indelible trails which the accused cannot erase.

"When taken together, [they] lead, in the prosecution's submission, beyond [a] reason[able] doubt, to the conclusion that each of the four accused carried out the acts attributed them and are guilty of the crimes charged," he said.

The Accused

  • Salim Jamil Ayyash
  • Mustafa Amine Badreddine
  • Hussein Hassan Oneissi
  • Assad Hassan Sabra
The four suspects - Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Assad Sabra and Hussein Oneissi - are being tried in absentia. They are all members of Lebanon's militant Shi'ite movement Hezbollah.

They are charged with planning the car bombing that killed Hariri. If found guilty, they could be sentenced to life in prison. A fifth man, Hassan Habib Merhi, was indicted later and is not officially a suspect in this trial.

Hezbollah denies any involvement. It claims the United States and Israel are behind the assassination.

With a mass of evidence to be presented and hundreds of witness statements, the proceedings may take years.

Rafik Hariri

  • Born in Sidon, Lebanon in 1944
  • Worked in Saudi Arabia after graduating from college in Lebanon
  • Lebanon's prime minister from 1992 to 1998 and 2000 until 2004
  • Assassinated February 14, 2005 in Beirut
Another prosecutor, Alexander Milne, detailed the minutes leading up to the bombing. He displayed photos of a smiling Hariri leaving Beirut's parliament and later sounds of the blast disrupting a speech in the building, located about a kilometer away.

"The Beirut terrorist bombing of the 14th of February 2005 shook the people of Lebanon and the rest of the world," he said. "Initial outrage and horror gave way to a firm determination to establish what had happened and to find out who was responsible."

Many believe Syria was behind the assassination of Mr. Hariri, a powerful Sunni politician with close ties to Saudi Arabia. Damascus, which has close links to Hezbollah, has denied any involvement. The killing sparked massive demonstrations in Lebanon that helped to end Syria's military presence there.

Some hail the trial for ending a sense of impunity tied to other killings in Lebanon - even though the suspects remain at large. But others fear it will further deepen tensions between Lebanese Sunni and Shia Muslims.

​The country has been shaken by a string of recent killings. Early Thursday, a suicide bomb blast in the north killed several people and wounded more than two dozen.

A car bomb last month near the 2005 blast site killed Mohamad Chatah, another Hezbollah critic and a former aide to Saad Hariri. Again, Hezbollah and Syria were accused of being behind his death.

  • A Lebanese Internal Security police officer walks past a damaged car at the site of an explosion in Hermel, Jan. 16, 2014.
  • Black smoke rises from the site of a car bomb explosion in Hermel, northeast Lebanon, Jan. 16, 2014.
  • A man reacts near a burning car at the site of an explosion in the Shi'ite town of Hermel, Jan. 16, 2014.
  • People gather at the site of a car bomb explosion in Hermel, northeast of Lebanon, Jan. 16, 2014.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Amid Yousef from: Cleveland Ohio
January 16, 2014 11:51 AM
THis trial is a *SHAM* orchestrated by those wanting to keep the WAR in SYRIA going...
THe JUDGES are to stop this SHAM if they have an ounce of DECENCY or if true JUSTICE runs in their bones.
Saad HARIRI is a MORON and he is No Rafiq Hariri (He is a Mama's boy and Saudi PUPPET) his dad stood up to SAUDI ARABIA and HE saw what happened, and conducting this trial is a TRAVESTY of Justice and a DISTRACTION from GENEVA II next week.

Turn off the TV CAMERAS and watch this entire SHAM implode.
***SHAME SHAME SHAME for conducting a SHAM TRIAL***

1- 5 people supposedly on trial and NOT one of them has been served with a notice or even been FOUND... you are conducting a MADE for TV trial to overshadow the

by: Bob from: USA
January 16, 2014 10:42 AM
Who are these white Europeans that think they can prosecute whomever they want in the world?!! You bunch are nothing more than lackey ziodog employees! Stick to Europe where you belong! No one asked for you interference in other nations on OTHER continents.
In Response

by: serg from: australia
January 29, 2014 5:36 AM
Interesting comment Bob coming from an american ....have you been living in a cave since 1918? Or been in a coma? You really have no idea of US foreign policy?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More