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Hariri urges 'punishment' of 'murderers', calls on Hezbollah to make sacrifices

Image credits: Saad Hariri leaves the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) at Leidschendam. Picture courtesy Kenzo Tribouillard (AFP)

Ex-PM Saad Hariri said Tuesday he accepted a special tribunal's verdict over the 2005 murder of his father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

"The court has ruled, and in the name of the family of the late prime minister Rafik Hariri and on behalf of the families of the martyrs and victims, we accept the court's ruling," he said outside the court.

"Today, we have all discovered the truth," added Hariri, who attended the heavily secured court for the judgement. "The verdict sends a message to the killers that the era of political crimes is over," the ex-PM added.

Salim Ayyash
The U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Tuesday found Salim Ayyash, a member of Hezbollah, guilty over Hariri's murder, but cleared three other suspects after a years-long trial. Ayyash, 56, was convicted in absentia by the Netherlands-based court over a huge suicide bombing in Beirut that killed the Sunni billionaire politician and 21 other people.

Judges said there was not enough evidence to convict Assad Sabra, 43, Hussein Oneissi, 46, and Hassan Habib Merhi, 54, over the blast, which changed the face of the Middle East. The judges also said there was no evidence to directly link Syria -- the former military overlord in Lebanon - or Hezbollah's leadership to the attack.

Hariri on Tuesday said the verdict demonstrated the court's objectivity and "high credibility," as only one of four suspects was found guilty, when court critics, including Hezbollah, had expected a wholesale guilty sentence from what they have called a "politicised" court.

Even though the court did not link Hezbollah's leadership to the attack, Hariri said he still believed the Iran-backed movement was responsible. "Today, the party that should make sacrifices is Hezbollah," he said.

"It is clear that the network responsible is from its ranks," he added, saying that the perpetrators thought they could dodge justice and punishment because of Hezbollah's protection. "We will not rest until the punishment is carried out. The Lebanese, as of today, will not accept for their country to be a haven for murderers," Hariri said.

"We are known, we speak with uncovered faces and with our true names. We tell everyone: let no one expect any sacrifice from us anymore. We have sacrificed the most precious things we have and we won’t abandon Lebanon," the ex-PM added.

Turning to the devastating and deadly explosion that rocked Beirut on August 4, Hariri said: "My new demand after the terrible disaster of Aug. 4 is that truth and justice for Rafik Hariri should establish for knowing the truth and justice for all the innocents and wounded who fell in Beirut’s bombing."

"We will not give up Beirut’s right," he added. "Justice and truth are the demand of all Lebanese, so don't push them into a confrontation," Hariri warned.

With agencies

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Arthur Blok
Veteran journalist, author, moderator and entrepreneur. The man with the unapologetic opinion who is always ready to help you understand and simplify the most complex (global) matters. Just ask.
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