Hariri tribunal to decide 11 Nov on absentia trial for Hezbollah supporters

AFP , Thursday 20 Oct 2011

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah claims a US-Israeli conspiracy against the Shia movement as the tribunal investigating al-Hariri's murder will be held on 11 November

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (Photo:AP)

The tribunal investigating the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri will hold a hearing on 11 November to decide whether to try in absentia the four Hezbollah members accused in the case, the court said on Thursday.

"The trial chamber schedules a hearing for Friday, 11 November 2011, at 10:00am" on the matter, it said.

The two sides have until 2 November to file their written briefs in the case, it added.

On Monday, the pre-trial judge asked the trial chamber to determine whether proceedings in absentia should be initiated in the case of Ayyash et al.

Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Hussein Anaissi, and Assad Sabra are wanted for the February 14, 2005 suicide car bomb attack in Beirut that killed Hariri and 22 others, including the suicide bomber.

All four are members of the Iran-backed Shiite militia.

The tribunal, based in The Hague, was created by a 2007 UN Security Council resolution, at Lebanon's request.

The court on 17 August unsealed the indictment against the four suspects and has said Lebanon must try harder to apprehend them, but the country's Hezbollah-backed government is widely seen as resistant to the tribunal's work.

A Western-backed government led by Hariri's son Saad collapsed in January largely over its support for the tribunal.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, a key player in Lebanese politics, has said he doubts the four indictees will ever be found and has branded the tribunal a US-Israeli conspiracy aimed at bringing down Hezbollah.

Ayyash and Badreddine face five charges including that of "committing a terrorist act by means of an explosive device" and homicide, while Anaissi and Sabra face charges of conspiring to commit the same acts.

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