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Roux Says Accused Can Participate in Trial in Absentia, Dispatch Lawyers to Court

Francois Roux, the head of the Defense Office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, noted Sunday that those indicted by the court in the 2005 assassination of ex-PM Rafik Hariri can participate in the trials in absentia by dispatching their lawyers to court’s headquarters in The Hague.

In an interview with Al-Jadeed television, Roux said the Defense Office will not be directly in charge of defending the suspects, noting that he will rather name defense teams that will choose their own strategy and that the office will only aid them in their mission.

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Abu Faour: No Party Can Eliminate Others in this Country

Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour stressed Sunday that “no party can practice hegemony or eliminate the other parties in this country.”

He noted that “governments, elections and alliances … come and go and only this country remains,” calling for preserving Lebanon through “national unity, coexistence, understanding and the spirit of reconciliation.”

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Firefighters Manage to Douse Huge Plastics Depot Blaze in Ouzai

Civil defense firefighters managed to extinguish a huge blaze that broke out Sunday at a large plastics depot in the Beirut southern suburb of Ouzai, near the Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport, state-run National News Agency reported.

“The fire caused material damage only and the office of the state prosecutor has asked sworn experts to inspect the accident’s site on Monday and provide it with a report in order to take the relevant measures,” NNA added.

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Al-Rahi Celebrates Mass in Annaya on St. Charbel Day

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi celebrated mass in the presence of President Michel Suleiman at the St. Charbel monastery in Annaya on Sunday.

Al-Rahi thanked Suleiman for attending the mass, saying the president’s presence was a confirmation that he was holding onto with the tradition that he started in the first year of his term.

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Hizbullah: It is a Sin to Lure International Pressure on Cabinet

Hizbullah’s deputy Executive Council leader, Sheikh Nabil Qaouq, said Sunday that “luring international pressure on the Lebanese cabinet is more than a national sin.”

“It is unfortunate to see that at a time when the cabinet is seeking to confront the Israeli danger, the March 14 forces are luring international pressure to weaken, blackmail and topple the government,” Qaouq said.

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Report: D.C.R.I Team Headed by Top General Ended Estonians’ Kidnap Ordeal

A French general specialized in anti-terror operations headed the team that won the release of the seven Estonian tourists in the Bekaa valley on Wednesday, Ad-Diyar daily reported.

The newspaper said that the general is a member of the French intelligence and expert in Lebanese affairs.

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Report: Two Syrian Officials to Be Named in Hariri Murder Probe

Two Syrian officials are among the names included in new arrest warrants to be issued by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the Kuwaiti daily al-Anbaa reported Sunday.

It quoted sources close to the March 14-led opposition as saying that two Syrian officials will be accused of involvement in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s Feb. 2005 assassination.

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European Sources: Permanent Ceasefire in South Still Under Discussion

The willingness to achieve a stage of permanent ceasefire between Lebanon and Israel is still in the process of discussions, European sources in Beirut told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat on Sunday.

They said the test of intentions would later lead to Lebanese-Israeli negotiations under the sponsorship of UNIFIL to reach a mechanism that would pave way for permanent ceasefire.

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Saniora Accuses Hizbullah of Seeking to Take Full Control of the State

Head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc Fouad Saniora has accused Premier Najib Miqati’s cabinet of seeking to pave way for Hizbullah’s full control of the state.

“The objective of the current government is to pave way for the full control of the arms party and the logic of armed men on the nation and the state,” Saniora said during a dinner banquet thrown by MP Mohammed al-Hajjar at his residence in Shehim.

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Report: Miqati Sends Friendly Message to March 14

Premier Najib Miqati intended to send a friendly message to the March 14 forces by hugging Fares Soaid, the coordinator of the coalition’s general secretariat, during a dinner hosted by the president at his hometown of Amsheet on Saturday.

A guest who attended the dinner banquet thrown by President Michel Suleiman in honor of Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi, told An Nahar daily on Sunday that Miqati first shook hands with Soaid and then hugged him in front of the cameras.

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