A United Nations-backed tribunal found only one member of the Lebanese group Hezbollah guilty of assassinating former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a massive bomb blast in 2005.
Three other Hezbollah suspects were cleared on Tuesday.
The verdict by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) – an international court based near The Hague, Netherlands – came more than 15 years after Hariri was killed on February 14, 2005, along with 21 others in the huge explosion in the capital, Beirut.
BREAKING: 15 years later, Special #Lebanon Tribunal acquits 3 suspects accused of killing PM Rafik Hariri, finds another guilty (Salim Ayyash).
STL also said no evidence of Hezbollah leadership involvement. Unexpected verdicts in Hague: https://t.co/smmRzwbFSW
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) August 18, 2020
The four members of the Lebanese political party Hezbollah were accused of organizing and carrying out the attack, although the group was not formally charged and denied any involvement.
The four – Salim Ayyash, Assad Sabra, Hassan Oneissi, and Hassan Habib Merhi – were tried in absentia as Hezbollah has refused to disclose their whereabouts.
— @palestinechron (@PalestineChron) August 17, 2020
The court also said that there is no evidence that the leadership of Hezbollah or the Syrian government were directly involved.
“The trial chamber is of the view that Syria and Hezbollah may have had motives to eliminate Mr. Hariri and his political allies, however, there is no evidence that the Hezbollah leadership had any involvement in Mr. Hariri’s murder and there is no direct evidence of Syrian involvement,” said the judge, reading a summary of the court’s 2,600-page decision.
(Palestine Chronicle, Al Jazeera English, Social Media)