UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urges Lebanon to follow the Hague Court’s ruling on the assassination of Rafic Hariri: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Beirut authorities to accept the verdict of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which sentenced two Hezbollah members to life in prison for their roles in the 2005 attack that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Hariri was assassinated on the Beirut beachfront on February 14, 2005, by a suicide bomber who attacked his armored convoy. The blast also killed 21 individuals and injured 226 others.
The bombing sparked countrywide riots, driving Syrian troops out of Lebanon after nearly 30 years of military presence.

The STL found Salim Ayyash guilty and sentenced him to life in prison for his role in the assassination in 2020, but the tribunal found insufficient evidence to condemn Habib Merhi and Hussein Oneissi. Prosecutors challenged the acquittal, and both men were convicted guilty in March.

In their absence, all three individuals were tried, convicted, and condemned. They are still at free and are unlikely to face any jail time since Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah, refuses to accept the court’s jurisdiction and refuses to hand them over.

“My sympathies are with the victims of the Feb. 14 incident, and their families,” Guterres stated. He also expressed his “deep gratitude for the judges and employees engaged in this case’s dedication and hard work over the years.”

He praised the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s “independence and impartiality,” and urged Lebanese authorities to “accept the Tribunal’s ruling.”
The UN’s New York spokesman, Farhan Haq, told Arab News that the agency “welcomed the progress and work being done by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and we feel that the people of Lebanon deserve justice.”

The STL was founded in 2009 in The Hague, Netherlands, in accordance with a UN Security Council decision. In the end, four accused were prosecuted in their absence, with one of them, Assad Sabra, being acquitted.

The court, which has been plagued by political concerns in Lebanon, declared last year that it would have to close after dealing with outstanding cases due to a lack of financing. This means Ayyash’s trial in a separate case involving three attacks on Lebanese lawmakers in 2004 and 2005 would be postponed.

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