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UN-backed Tribunal indicts Hezbollah members for 2005 Hariri murder

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The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a United Nations-backed court investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, has issued indictments against four members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Daily Star reports.

The indictments and arrest warrants have been delivered to the Lebanese cabinet - which has been Hezbollah-dominated since early this month. Some officials have tried to downplay the news. Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said that the announcement was not very important, as it is "just an indictment, and not a final verdict." Yet the results of this tribunal may have profound effects on Lebanon, as many have claimed the conviction of Hezbollah in the trial would be "explosive" for the small and politically unstable nation.

Saad Hariri, Rafiq's son who served as prime minister until replaced by a Hezbollah-back coalition earlier this year, has called the indictments a "historic moment" for Lebanon.

Today, we witness together a distinctive historic moment in the political, judicial, security and moral life of Lebanon...I feel the beats in my heart embracing the hearts of all the Lebanese who defended the cause of justice and refused to bargain on the blood of martyrs...We chose not to revenge or resent. We relied on God and started a costly and long path towards justice and truth through a tribunal of international character with Lebanese judges that would provide evidence and give the accused, whoever they are, a chance to defend themselves.

Many analysts, however, are sceptical justice will ever be served. "Nothing's going to happen," said Professor Karim Makdisi of the American University of Beirut. "If they try to serve the warrants they'll be blocked."

Even so, the results of the trial could have a major impact on the region, particularly if the path to truth leads to Damascus - as was suggested by a previous head of the UN's investigation into Hariri's death earlier this week. After the 2005 car bomb killed Hariri, a prominent opponent of Syrian hegemony in Lebanon, fingers around the world were pointed at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The event led directly to what is now known as the ‘Cedar Revolution', which finally brought an end to the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Formal recognition of Syrian involvement could have huge implications for the embattled Assad, who is facing massive demonstrations at home calling for his removal. Any indication that he played a role in Hariri's death could finally force him out of office, as some analysts have suggested.


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