The chief prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) , which is examining the 2005 death of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafik Hariri, said Tuesday he was “extremely disappointed” by a CBC story linking militant group Hezbollah to the murder.
Canadian Daniel Bellemare said the story came as the prosecution is “working flat out” to prepare a draft indictment to be submitted to a judge in the near future.
Bellemare said in a statement that he would not comment on the investigation, adding that preserving confidentiality is important for it to succeed.
“The most serious impact of the CBC reports is that their broadcast may put people’s lives in jeopardy,” said Bellemare.
Bellemare also said it “will be for the judges, and the judges alone, to assess the evidence and reach conclusions based on the facts as established at trial, and the law.”
A Lebanese woman carries a picture of slain former prime minister Rafik Hariri during a rally in Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square on Feb. 14, 2010. A Lebanese woman carries a picture of slain former prime minister Rafik Hariri during a rally in Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square on Feb. 14, 2010. (Hussein Malla/Associated Press)The CBC investigation, which relied on interviews with multiple sources within a UN inquiry into the killing of Hariri, along with some of the inquiry’s own records, found examples of timidity, bureaucratic inertia, and incompetence bordering on gross negligence in the UN probe.
One of the records lays out networks of cellphones linked to the Hariri murder. The networks were uncovered by murdered Lebanese police officer Capt. Wissam Eid and UN investigators, and they provide evidence that Hariri’s assassins had ties to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
Earlier Tuesday, the current prime minister of Lebanon also criticized the leak of documents .
“I personally think that the media leaks do not serve the course of justice,” Lebanese PM Saad Hariri, who is Rafik Hariri’s son, said Tuesday, according to published media reports.
Hezbollah’s website claimed the documents cited by the CBC were “purchased from UN sources.”
In fact, the documents came from sources close to the investigation.
“We paid for our hotel rooms, we paid for our air fare, we paid for our meals, but the information that was in those reports was given to us by sources who were offended at the handling of the investigation, or the mishandling of the investigation,” said the CBC’s Neil Macdonald, who broke the story.
“It was given freely and out of a sense of outrage, and that’s that,” he said.