Lebanon Tribunal convicts 2 more Hezbollah men for 2005 Hariri murder

hariri assassination scene
Former slain Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri , father of ex PM Saad Hariri was assassinated in downtown Beirut on February 14, 2005. Two Hezbollah operatives Habib Merhi and Hussein Oneissi .were sentenced for life imprisonment for the killing of Hariri by a UN backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) on Thursday , a third man, Salim Ayyash, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2020. but Hezbollah refused to them over to the court .

By Stephanie van den Berg

THE HAGUE – Appeals judges at the Lebanon Tribunal on Thursday convicted another two men on charges of terrorism and murder for their role in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, reversing their earlier acquittal.

The prosecution had appealed against the acquittal of Hassan Habib Merhi and Hussein Hassan Oneissi, saying there had been fundamental errors in the judgment.

The judges said the lower trial chamber wrongly assessed the circumstantial evidence in the case, which was based almost entirely on mobile phone records, when they acquitted Merhi and Oneissi.

Like Salim Jamil Ayyash, a former member of the Shi’ite movement Hezbollah, who was convicted in 2020, the two men were tried in absentia and remain at large.

In Lebanon, Hariri’s son Saad al-Hariri, also a former Lebanese prime minister, said the ruling obliged the Lebanese authorities to work to hand over those convicted to the court.

He added he holds Hezbollah responsible for “covering up the crime and protecting the criminals”.

There was no immediate response from Hezbollah, an Iranian backed militant group that is listed as a terrorist organization by the US and several western and Arab countries