STL Prosecutor Office: Circumstantial Evidence is 'Enough' to Start 'Transparent' Trial

The office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Prosecutor has stressed that the circumstantial evidence against four Hizbullah members in the assassination case of ex-PM Rafik Hariri was sufficient to start the trial.

An Nahar daily published on Thursday quoted officials from the office as saying that the evidence was “enough” to open the trial on January 16 in the suicide bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others on the Beirut seafront on Feb. 2005.

Four Hizbullah members - Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Hussein Oneissi and Assad Sabra - will be tried in absentia.

A fifth wanted suspect, Hassan Habib Merhi, was indicted in October after a pre-trial judge confirmed that he was accused of being involved in the attack.

The officials told An Nahar that Prosecutor Norman Farrell will present the evidence to the court “during transparent judicial proceedings that will be open to the public.”

The STL issued warrants against the four suspects in June 2011, and Interpol has issued a "red notice" for them but none has been arrested so far.

The 2011 indictment against them said the case is built in large part on circumstantial evidence.

It identified five networks of telephones used in the buildup to Hariri's assassination, and set out a detailed account of the days and hours leading to the detonation of 2.5 tons of explosives by a suicide bomber in a Mitsubishi van.

The officials reiterated to An Nahar that Bo Astrom has never worked for the office of the prosecutor at the STL.

They said his personal views do not reflect or represent the position of the prosecutor.

Astrom is a veteran Swedish police investigator who worked under former chief U.N. investigator Detlev Mehlis in Hariri's murder case.

He has told al-Jadeed television that Brigadier General Wissam al-Hasan was absent from Hariri's convoy on the day of the assassination.

Hasan, chief of the Intelligence Bureau of the Internal Security Forces, who was assassinated in Oct. 2012, had never failed to escort Hariri, the report said.

Astrom considered the behavior as “suspicious.”

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