News / Middle East

UN Lebanon Tribunal Indicts 4 in Hariri Assassination

Lebanese women pass by a giant portrait of slain Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri near his grave, in downtown Beirut, June 30, 2011
Lebanese women pass by a giant portrait of slain Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri near his grave, in downtown Beirut, June 30, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
  • Interview with Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch in Beirut

Al Pessin

The United Nations Special Tribunal for Lebanon has presented arrest warrants and indictments for four men, believed to be affiliated with Hezbollah, for their alleged roles in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri six years ago.

VOA's Susan Yackee speaks with Nadim Houry, with Human Rights Watch in Beirut, about the development:

Tribunal officials delivered the indictments and warrants Thursday to Lebanon’s state prosecutor in Beirut. The prosecutor now has 30 days to take action, and if he does not, the Tribunal can publish the documents.

In a televised speech, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati asked for calm in what he called a “sensitive time” for his country.

Call to unite

Mikati called on the Lebanese people to unite in “a new reality,” and to make learning the truth a priority, “in spite of anything.”

He said the indictments should be dealt with “realistically and responsibly.” And he also cautioned that indictments are not convictions, and that all those accused are innocent until proven guilty.

The U.N. Tribunal has long been expected to indict members of Hezbollah, which has denied any involvement in the truck bombing that killed Hariri and 22 other people in 2005.

Hezbollah is the most powerful political movement in Lebanon, and it forced the fall of the government led by Hariri’s son, Saad, in January, when the Tribunal first moved to issue indictments. Hezbollah and its allies hold a majority of seats in the current Lebanese Cabinet.  Western nations consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization, and say it is heavily influenced by Syria and Iran.

Concerns of reprisals

Some news reports suggest the indictments could spark new attacks by Hezbollah and plunge Lebanon into a new and deeper political crisis.

Nadim Shehadi of London’s Royal Institute of International Affairs said there is concern about violence, but he disagrees with predictions of chaos in Lebanese politics and society.

“The impact will be minimal because this is something that has been expected and anticipated for the last two, three years," said Shehadi. "And all the crises that Lebanon has gone through were related to it. So, it’s like the moment of impact has been amortized.”

Shehadi said that until recently, many Lebanese saw the U.N. Tribunal as interference in their country’s internal affairs, and might have reacted angrily to these indictments. But he said things have changed in Lebanon, as they have elsewhere in the region, with concepts like ‘accountability’ and ‘justice’ taking on new meaning and importance.

“It involves, for the first time in the whole region, the introduction of accountability to such crimes," said Shehadi. "So you are really changing the modus operandi of the whole region with this. The idea of international justice and accountability is much more accepted in the region because of what happened in Tunis, in Egypt. There is a change in atmosphere, and this is part of the change.”

Syria's role

But Shehadi acknowledges it is a long way from Thursday’s sealed indictments to actual punishment for Hariri’s killers. He said the process will take a long time, and will be opposed by Syria, which has considerable influence in Lebanon.

He said Syrian leaders are concerned about any development that promotes accountability and might lend credibility to their country’s opposition movement, which is facing a violent crackdown by Syrian government forces.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid