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UN Trial for Hariri Murder Could Begin Next Year

Herman von Hebel, acting registrar at the international tribunal to prosecute suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (file photo)

A top official with the U.N. Special Tribunal for Lebanon says a trial for suspects linked to the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri could begin next September or October.

Tribunal registrar Herman von Hebel said the dates are a "best case scenario." At a Thursday briefing in the Netherlands, he also said the tribunal may hold the trial in absentia if no arrests are made.

Former Prime Minister Hariri and 22 others were killed in a Beirut truck bombing. Tensions have been high in Lebanon amid media reports that the tribunal will indict members of the Hezbollah militant group.

In November, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said the group would "cut the hand" of anyone who tried to arrest members of the group, which also shares power in Lebanon's fragile government.

The Associated Press quotes von Hebel as saying the tribunal will indict individuals and not organizations.

Separately, a Lebanese newspaper that has been publishing WikiLeaks documents about the tribunal investigation and other issues says it has been hit by a cyber attack. Al-Akbar staff members say the attacks occurred over the past few days.

Several Lebanese newspapers have published reports citing diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks that reveal details of the investigation into the former prime minister's death.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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