Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc leader MP Mohammed Raad called on Tuesday for ending Lebanon’s cooperation with the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is probing former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s 2005 assassination.
“Cooperation with the tribunal should be severed because the court is targeting the Resistance,” National News Agency quoted Raad as saying.
The MP also said that the new Lebanese cabinet, which is dominated by the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition, “has adopted Lebanon’s defense formula of army, people and Resistance.”
He added: “The enemy and its masters want to target the Resistance because it represents what is left of dignity in this world.”
“The Resistance has presented its victories to all the Lebanese regardless of their political and sectarian affiliations,” he stressed.
“When we were combating the Israeli danger, we weren’t doing so on behalf of a sect or party, but were doing so on behalf of the entire country and Ummah,” Raad declared.
Raad’s statements contradict with those of PM Nagib Mikati
In his first foreign interview since announcing a new cabinet, Lebanon’s Prime Minister told CNN ” We are going to proceed in this tribunal. It is not in our hand to eliminate the tribunal by any means”
Asked about funding it he said :
“It is one of the issues of the protocol and we are going to follow this protocol as is.”
The Iranian and Syrian -backed Hezbollah brought down Hariri’s government on January 12 over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s (STL) imminent indictment which was widely expected to implicate Hezbollah members in the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri in 2005
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon issued the indictments in the assassination of Lebanon’s former PM Hariri on June 30. An STL delegation met with Lebanon’s state prosecutor Said Mirza and handed him a copy of the Lebanon portion of the indictment and the arrest warrants. Two of the suspects Mustafa Badreddine and Salim Ayyash are reportedly senior members of the Iranian and Syrian-backed Hezbollah while the other two Hassan Aneissy, also known as Hassan Issa, and Assad Sabra played a supporting role in the execution of the assassination.
Lebanon has 30 days to find and arrest the suspects but Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said Saturday that the party would not cooperate with the tribunal.
“No Lebanese government will be able to carry out any arrests whether in 30 days, 30 years or even 300 years.”
“We reject the Special Tribunal for Lebanon along with each and every void accusation it issues, which to us is the equivalent of an attack against Hezbollah,” Nasrallah added in his hour-long speech.
Nasrallah admitted all the four suspects are Hezbollah members:
“The suspects named in the indictment are brothers who have an honorable history in resisting Israeli occupation.” He said
The whereabouts of the four remain unknown but some reports indicated that the two prime suspects in the assassination already fled to Iran.
“My only advice to those charged is that they should consult a lawyer as soon as possible…Now is the time for defense.” Francois Roux, the head of the Defense Office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon said in addressing the four Hezbollah members who were indicted in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri