The UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) on Thursday puts four members of Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah on trial in absentia for the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in a Beirut car bombing on February 14, 2005.
Here are some key points on the tribunal and the charges:
-- The STL is the only international tribunal set up to try the perpetrators of a terrorist attack and the only one that can try suspects in absentia.
-- Set up in 2007 by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which deals with threats to international peace.
-- The resolution was drawn up by France, Britain and the United States. Veto-wielding permanent members Russia and China abstained from the vote, citing lack of support for the tribunal from the Lebanese parliament.
-- The STL's annual budget is 60 million euros ($80 million), around half that of the International Criminal Court which tries the world's most serious crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
-- The two main accused are Mustafa Badreddine, 52, who prosecutors say was the mastermind, and Salim Ayyash, 50, accused of heading the team that physically prepared the attack.
-- Two other accused, Hussein Anaissi, 39, and Assad Sabra, 37, are charged with preparing and delivering a video falsely claiming responsibility to international news organisations, thereby seeking to "blame the wrong people".
-- A fifth suspect, Hassan Habib Merhi, 48, was indicted last year, and his case may yet be joined to the current trial.
Facts Alleged In The Indictment
-- All four accused are Lebanese citizens and remain at large. The STL's indictment draws extensively on mobile phone records.
-- "Based on their experience, training and affiliation with Hezbollah, therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that Badreddine and Ayyash had the capability to undertake the February 14, 2005, attack" that killed Hariri and 21 others and injured 226.
-- The bombing that targeted Hariri's convoy on the Beirut waterfront was the work of a male suicide bomber who detonated 2,500 kilos (5,500 pounds) of TNT hidden in a Mitsubishi Canter van.
-- Evidence gathered traces the "conspiracy" behind the attack to November 2004 and focuses on five covert and open telecommunications networks.
-- While details about the networks are blacked out in the text, a central "red network" led by Ayyash and used by the assassination team was operational from January 4, 2005, until two minutes before the Hariri murder.
-- A second "blue network" shows association with the purchase of the Mitsubishi van, while a "green network" was used to control and coordinate the bombing.