Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Cold hard facts on Hezbollah and Hariri assassination

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Hezbollah has been going into overdrive this week as it tries to stop implementation of the indictment of four of its members by the special UN tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri in 2005.

Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah promised that Hezbollah would never hand over its members, and accused the tribunal of being an Israeli conspiracy and a plot.

Due to its effective control of the Lebanese government, the stakes for Hezbollah are high.

This week, Australian senior policeman Nick Kaldas, who played a pivotal role in the UN investigation in his capacity as chief investigator on the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon, entered the fray and poured scorn on Nasrallah's claims.

An insider's view into the tribunal offers a completely different story that Nasrallah finds very threatening.

In a fascinating interview with ABC's 'Lateline' on July 7, Kaldas stressed the need to uncover the truth about Hariri's assassination, as a crucial part in the promotion of justice:

" I think there is still a hunger for justice, a hunger for the truth, a hunger for the reality of what happened to come out. "

Hezbollah's control over the political landscape in Lebanon makes it virtually impossible for the UN tribunal to apprehend the suspects in order to try them. However, according to Kaldas, there is a possibility that the tribunal will conduct a trial in absentia.

"... and in some sense, even though you may not have your hands on the suspects or the offenders, at least you have closure, and that's a very important thing for the victims, their families and for those in Lebanon who want to see justice done... I think getting the truth out in many ways is justice."

In an article in today's Australian newspaper Kaldas also dismissed Nasrallah's claims regarding Israeli involvement in the tribunal's investigations as "ludicrous".
"...He [Kaldas] said the case against the four- whom Hezbollah has vowed never to surrender- relied on a wealth of forensic evidence, witness statements and communication analysis. 'The investigation itself was carried out, in my view, in a very thorough, methodical, modern investigative way and no stone was left unturned,' Kaldas said."

Kaldas believes that support and cooperation with the tribunal is imperative. In his 'Lateline' interview he encouraged the international community to support the tribunal:

"... there is a very strong moral, almost sacred, duty for the international community to do the right thing by supporting the tribunal at this stage of the game and supporting the findings of the tribunal to allow for a proper, just trial to go ahead and get the truth out."

In the Australian article he placed responsibility on Hezbollah and urged it to cooperate with the tribunal: "There is a moral obligation on Hezbollah to produce the individuals to face a proper trial and they have a chance to put their defence, if they have any, to the court."

The new Lebanese Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, pledged Lebanese cooperation with the tribunal and the UN Security Council resolution establishing it, despite Hezbollah's presence in the government, but in Lebanon's political reality, it seems like the battle to end the cult of impunity is still a long way from being won.