Jumblat Dismisses Corruption, Rising Saudi Influence Linked to Hariri Murder

Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat dismissed claims on Thursday that former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's Feb. 14, 2005 assassination was linked to rampant corruption in Lebanon or a rising Saudi influence in the country.

“Hariri was killed for political reasons,” Jumblat told the Special Tribunal for Lebanon during the Defense Counsel's cross-examination.

His statement came after he was asked whether Hariri's murder was linked to corruption.

Jumblat also refuted claims that Saudi Arabia had pushed Hariri to become a politician as a result of a conflict with Syria.

“Hariri was an ambitious man and it was his right to enter the political scene in Lebanon,” said the MP on the fourth day of testimony.

“Saudi-Syrian ties were excellent until Hariri's assassination,” he added.

Jumblat denied that the amendment of the Lebanese constitution and the approval of the Taef Agreement in 1989 was a Saudi demand.

It came as a result of a “Lebanese demand to restore the internal balance. It was not a Saudi or Syrian demand,” he told the Trial Chamber.

“The Taef Accord came as a result of a deal between the Lebanese, the Saudis and the Syrians,” he added.

The PSP chief told the court that the Syrian presence was aimed at implementing the Taef but it later turned into a hegemonic power.

“The majority of Sunnis in Lebanon are moderates,” he said.

Jumblat described al-Mustaqbal, which is now headed by Hariri's son Saad as a “moderate movement.”

“I have not said that fundamentalist members had become part of it,” said the MP.

On Wednesday, Jumblat recounted how the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad used its allies in Lebanon to limit the powers of Hariri and his supporters.

A voice of recording of a February 1, 2005 meeting between Hariri and with then Syrian deputy Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem was aired before the court to demonstrate the influence of Syria on political proceedings in Lebanon.



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