STL identifies Hezbollah’s Merhi as key player in Hariri murder


Hassan-Habib-Merhi-The Special Tribunal for Lebanon ( STL) Prosecutors declared that they identified one of the “key players” and leaders of the cell that assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, as the trial resumed Wednesday of the five members of Hezbollah accused of complicity in the February 14 , 2005 bombing that killed him and 21 others and plunged Lebanon into political turmoil.

Graham Cameron, a Senior prosecution counsel described Hassan Habib Merhi, the last Hezbollah suspect to have been indicted by the court, as one of the “key players” in the assassination team that plotted and executed Hariri’s assassination.

Cameron painted a picture of an intricate and finely tuned conspiracy that was so complex it needed a clear hierarchy and division of labor, with top Hezbollah operative Mustafa Badreddine the alleged apex of the plot.

The assassination “could only have been accomplished with very extensive, coordinated preparation and equally extensive attention to detail,” he said.

Merhi “played a significant and leading role” in what Cameron described as a “criminal team.”

Prosecutors accused Merhi of playing a key role in organizing the false claim of responsibility for the attack that killed the former prime minister.

They are referring to a video that was aired after the bombing of a man called Ahmad Abu Adass in which he claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of a group called Nusra and Jihad in Greater Syria. The prosecution claims the confession was coerced.

Prosecutors alleged that Merhi was responsible for the tasks of identifying a suitable scapegoat to blame for the attack, the befriending of Abu Adass and luring him away from his family, the preparation of a tape and letter taking false credit for the attack, delivering them to the media, and ensuring their broadcast throughout Lebanon.

According to prosecutors, Merhi reported to Badreddine, who also gave orders to another alleged senior operative in the conspiracy, a member of Hezbollah known as Salim Ayyash.

Cameron described Ayyash as being responsible for the surveillance of Hariri ahead of the attack, identifying a suitable assassination site and preparing the purchase and delivery of the Mitsubishi Canter van.

MP Bassil FleihanThe hearing was attended by Yasma Fleihan, the widow of MP Bassil Fleihan, who died from the wounds sustained in the attack.

She was introduced to the court by Peter Haynes, the lead lawyer representing the victims at the trial, in an emotional appeal before the court.

Haynes described Dr. Fleihan as a “brilliant economist” drawn back to Lebanon at Hariri’s behest in the “profound belief that that man could fashion a future for his mother country.”

Haynes said Fleihan moved his wife and two children back to Lebanon from Europe, until the attempted assassination of MP Marwan Hamade in October of 2004 prompted him to send them back home.

A week before the assassination, he was skiing with his family in Switzerland, Haynes said. On the day of the bombing, he accompanied Hariri as he left Parliament in his convoy, seated in the former premier’s car.

Haynes described Fleihan’s grievous wounds, as his wife Yasma sat to his right.

“His body was burned to the third degree, over 95% of it,” he said. “He quite literally had no skin.”

Fleihan was identified only through his wedding ring and the fact that he kept repeating his wife’s name, “Yasma,” said Haynes.

The lawyer added that Fleihan was flown to Paris and underwent extensive, experimental treatment, becoming a pioneering case in the handling of badly burned victims, but succumbed to the toxins that infected his body from the explosion.

The other four Hezbollah suspects in the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri
The other four Hezbollah suspects in the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri

Haynes described Yasma’s appearance before the court as an act of courage, saying the Fleihan family had remained in Europe in “perpetual fear” since the bombing.

Prosecutors began the hearing by recounting the events on the day of the attack.

Senior prosecution counsel Alexander Milne offered an account that laid out fresh details aimed at proving that the Hariri attack was carried out by a suicide bomber who detonated an explosives-laden Mitsubishi truck as the premier’s convoy drove by.

Milne said the bombing was carried out using 2.5 tons of RDX, a high-grade military explosive and the analysis of the bomb crater, the damage to surrounding buildings and windows as far away as 300 m from the blast site were consistent with the theory that Hariri was killed by an above-ground truck bomb.

Moreover, simulations of the blast scene showed that the destruction was consistent with one caused by explosives in a rectangular arrangement, similar to being stored on the back of a truck.

Milne said the prosecution believed that a Mitsubishi Canter van seen on CCTV footage moments before the explosion was responsible for the blast. The engine block of the vehicle had disintegrated, consistent with it being at the heart of the explosion, he said.

Moreover, the precise detonation of the bomb, just as Hariri’s car passed by, showed that it was likely triggered by someone inside the car, giving weight to the suicide bomber theory.

No evidence of wires or cables from the blast scene have ever been found, he said, in addition to the fact that Hariri’s convoy was equipped with equipment to block wireless detonation signals.

“The most likely explanation was the bombing was triggered by a suicide bomber,” Milne said.

The prosecution lawyer also offered more details about the DNA of an unidentified man found on the scene that prosecutors say belong to the suicide bomber.

Milne said that beyond knowing that he was a man, investigators had not been able to identify the remains and they had never been claimed.

The man’s DNA was found in tiny flesh and blood fragments at the blast scene that had been blown forward in the direction that Hariri’s convoy was moving, which prosecutors said shows that he was very close to the center of the blast and likely seated at the cabin of the Mitsubishi truck.

The detailed account was a direct challenge to defense lawyers, who say they believe the bomb that killed Hariri was in fact an underground explosion.




29 responses to “STL identifies Hezbollah’s Merhi as key player in Hariri murder”

  1. The real lebanese Avatar
    The real lebanese

    So what will the Lebanese army do about this? Nothing. Not much can get done with Kawaghi in charge.

  2. nagy_michael2 Avatar

    And Irani Angel wants to tell me that I should kiss Nassrallah ass for saving us.

    1. Well you don’t need to kiss his ass Nagy, however you should acknowledge at the very least that if it weren’t for HA, the takfiris could very well Infiltrate Lebanon and turn it into what we see in Iraq and Syria. Like them or hate them, you know it true.

      1. arzatna1 Avatar

        For God’s sake stop misleading the Lebanese people .
        The only reason we had the wave in bombings during the past months in Lebanon is Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria to support the Assad dictatorship .. You know it …Nasrallah knows it and the whole world knows it . People here are more intelligent than you think …they want facts not spin.
        One last word …As along as Shiites and Sunnis continue to call each other Takfiris we should never dream about peace and coexistence in the entire Middle east.
        Time for fresh thinking

        1. And where are these bombing now. Don’t tell me you believe that the LAF was able to stop them. And nobody is questioning your intelligence my friend. After all, intelligent people get things wrong as well. In terms of your last point, I agree with you 100%

          1. arzatna1 Avatar

            Have you been watching and reading the news . The bombings are back. 2 took place within 3 days.
            Time for Hezbollah to quit the Syrian war and bring back its fighters alive and not in caskets

          2. 5thDrawer Avatar

            Salam’s ‘Most Peaceful Times’. Bring on The Saudi Tourists. :-))

          3. AkhouManUki Avatar

            Saudi memo on banning tourism to Lebanon in 3…2…1…

          4. AkhouManUki Avatar

            Who cares about their fighters – what about the war they have brought to Lebanon? If not for their carless support of Assad in Syria, we would not have the extra instability that they have bestowed upon us.

      2. nagy_michael2 Avatar

        Farq2 you know man when if it comes between Jihadists and HA, I have to admit i will choose HA no question there. I am just saying I do not want anyone to control the others in the country. No one likes the jihadists eventually other than if you are that evil for God’s sake. But Sunnis are celebrating them because they are in turn getting oppressed. When I mentioned Iran should be the frontrunner in helping the Iraqi gov’t. I mean they got Maliki under their fingertips and Iran has a powerful military. why are they asking the U.S to interfere and pit the Sunnis against them? Iran should be the one flying over these jihadists and bombing them. I can go on further on HA but its complicated and neither of us can convince the other. but I love the shiite and the sunnis and anyone who stands for Lebanon. We’re all tired of war and we need peace and prosperity. Enough meddling from outside wherever the source might be. we accuse those M14’s of being Saudi stooges yet M8 wanted to keep Syria in Lebanon. we say Israel is our enemy because they bombed us and tortured us. Yet syria did the same. why not then to be fair treat them both as enemies..
        It just doesn’t make any sense.. one last thing i honestly do not care too much about Geagea. M8 don’t want him in power and calling him a criminal. Yet HA, Syria and other M8 put Elie Hobeika in power as a minister even though this guy was responsible for killing hundreds of palestinians in the camp. yah he is dead but really so its okay to approve of a criminal over so called another???

      3. 5thDrawer Avatar

        Or …. you could have been living as well as Israelis. 😉
        Maybe even with some health-care. (let alone electricity …)

  3. Fauzia45 Avatar

    Free minds,liberal thinkers,statesmen etc,,and those who believed in ^Lebanon first^ were killed !!!!

  4. arzatna1 Avatar

    This is really sad day for Lebanon .
    5 Hezbollah members who were indicted in the murder of one of the best prime minsters Lebanon ever had are roaming around in Dhahieh and no one has the guts to apprehend them and hand them over to justice .
    Time for courage

    1. AkhouManUki Avatar

      When you have a million+ base of supporters like Farqrallah, who take tremendous pride in how Hezbollah blatantly operates with total disregard for every law in Lebanon, you can understand why this kind of insanity is simply par for the course.

      These same sympathizers condone the extreme insecurity and instability that has plagued Lebanon since the start of the civil war, all in exchange for the incredible pride of their militia, the underdog that stood up to Israel. Liberating the south was an incredible achievement that no one will forget, it’s just that party ended nearly 15 years ago, and now it’s time to move on.

      When you have a militia that evolved into a political party that is built to thrive on instability and insecurity, it is the duty of every person that has any bit of patriotism to put an end to this insanity. Hezbollah need to hear this message loud and clear from every patriotic Lebanese citizen: “If you care about your country enough to want to see it grow and prosper, then you have to grow up and move on.”

      1. nagy_michael2 Avatar

        I agree with you but you are wasting your time with stuborn mules and ignorant and arrogant people. unfortunately they won’t listen and will lie and deny to death. everytime you tell hezbollah they respond with assasination and more killings. that their motto and they will not change.

        1. AkhouManUki Avatar

          It’s time worth wasting in my opinion – I don’t care how stubborn anyone is, this is our country. We need to reclaim what is ours.

          1. 5thDrawer Avatar

            30 years of yacking about it … not improving much …

          2. AkhouManUki Avatar

            Who said transformation was always easy?

    2. Leborigine Avatar

      Their time will come! I am still hanging on that hope. If the Lebanese Forces, who were once the superior military unit of the middle east came tumbling, so will HA. Its just a matter of time when the superpowers will push the button. Haram, let them have their short glory before they run back under the rock they crawled out from.

      1. Keep hanging on that hope, However be careful you don’t get tied from hanging for so long. The difference with the Lebanese Forces and HA, is HA has very powerful backers who will not let what you hope for happen to them.

        1. Leborigine Avatar

          Only time will tell!
          BTW, there is a big difference between powerful backers and having a shoe on your neck, and from what I have seen so far, the majority of syrian supporters enjoy assads sirmayee on their necks!

          1. Say what you will my friend, we all know who’s shoe is on who’s neck. The sooner you admit it the easier it will be for you to accept it. Just like you should accept that Lebanon was once part of Syria.

          2. Leborigine Avatar

            Hehe, that’s real funny, You just proved exactly what I said above. No point continuing with this exchange. When stupidity kicks in, I give up!

          3. Is that your way of running away when a fact is presented to you. Ok, I can accept that. On a lighter note, Go Blues. We finally kicked your asses. :-)))

          4. Leborigine Avatar

            You call that a fact, I call it an uneducated statement. I have provided proof in the past that Lebanon was never a part of this shithole that you call syria. If you have proof supporting your fact, please present it. Don’t reply with hinds facts either, they were very poor.Actually, do not reply at all, if that is what you believe, then stick to it. I do not want to waste time again on this topic!

          5. Tell me, do you at the very least acknowledge that Lebanon was once part of Syria. And please, don’t start with your spill about how old the name is and whether or not it was mentioned in the bible. It seems you have a hard time accepting that Lebanon was in deed part of Syria.

          6. Leborigine Avatar

            I do not have a hard time at all. Let me put it this way to you. Lebanon was part of a region called greater or Natural syria, Alongside Jordan, Iraq, Palestine and this shithole that you call syria. Lebanon was never part of modern or governing syrian state. If you cannot understand that basic knowledge, then please waste someone elses time. When greater syria did exist, there were municipalities or self governing tribes.
            It is an extremely stupid statement! A statement for the uneducated masses of the past and modern day unpatriotic Lebanese or try hard syrians who want to be Lebanese. As i mentioned before, I dare you or anyone here to give me proof that Lebanon was part of syria. LOL, even the ssnp with their ideology centered on this concept could not prove it

          7. Leborigine Avatar

            One more thing, lets say that Lebanon was part of this syria which for some reason, you really want to believe. Is that something to be proud of?? Its like a bunch of German Shepherds wanting to be stray dogs!

  5. 5thDrawer Avatar

    Slowly, slowly … 200 wounded and maimed will learn the truth.

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