STL receives material from Hezbollah, report


The prosecutor of the United Nations-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri is probing new material which has been provided by Hezbollah, the Lebanon’s Daily Star reported on Thursday.

“The office of the prosecutor is currently examining material hand-delivered by Hezbollah officials to the prosecutor-general of Lebanon on 13 July 2011,” the Special Tribunal on Lebanon (STL) prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

On July 4, prosecutor Daniel Bellemare invited the leader of the Shiite movement, Hassan Nasrallah, to submit information and documents that could assist the tribunal after Nasrallah claimed on July 2 to have material including video clips which could assist in the investigation.

In the hour-long televised address, Nasrallah ruled out the arrest of four Hezbollah suspects which were indicted in the investigation into the deaths of Hariri and 22 others in 2005. Interpol has also issued wanted notices for the men.

On Friday, the STL confirmed the names of the four wanted Hezbollah men and the charges against them. Pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen ordered confidentiality around the charges against Salim Ayyash, 47, Mustafa Badreddine, 50, Hussein Anaissi, 37 and Assad Sabra, 34, be dropped.

The names of the four Hezbollah members were first leaked to the media in June when the STL handed over to Lebanon’s State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza the sealed indictments and arrest warrants against the four men. The STL justified the decision to lift the confidentiality on the suspects’ details, saying that making the requested information available to the public might increase the likelihood of apprehending the suspects.

Hezbollah has claimed that the U.N.-backed tribunal’s probe is marred by witnesses who gave false information and has urged the Lebanese government to deal with these ‘false witnesses’ in the tribunal. According to the Daily Star, the Shiite movement has also repeatedly slammed the tribunal as a “U.S.-Israeli” project aimed at targeting the resistance group, and has vowed not to cooperate with the court.

The STL, which was established in 2007, has been a point of contention among the country’s rival political parties and led to the collapse of the government of Hariri’s son, Saad Hariri, who leads the March 14 alliance, early this year.

Hariri was killed along with 22 others on February 14, 2005, when a massive blast struck his motorcade in a seafront district of Beirut. The assassination sparked the so-called Cedar Revolution, a wave of mass protests that forced Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon after a 29-year deployment.

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