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Hariri tribunal launches legal case, prompting protests in Lebanon

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Hezbollah threatens strong backlash

Hariri was killed with 22 others in a massive truck bomb explosion in February 2005. The UN-backed tribunal has been investigating the murder of Hariri and other Lebanese politicians and journalists since June 2005.

Daniel Fransen, the tribunal’s pretrial judge, has six to 10 weeks to deliberate on the evidence accumulated by the prosecution. If he approves the case, the indictments are expected to be made public, including the names of those charged and possibly hundreds of pages of accumulated evidence.

Hezbollah has denied any involvement in Hariri’s death and accuses the tribunal of serving the interests of the United States and Israel.

Hezbollah sources warned in recent weeks of heightened measures by the group in response to the issuing of indictments. The pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on Tuesday quoted an unnamed Hezbollah source as saying “the postindictment phase will not be like the preindictment phase at all.”

Hezbollah's trial run for future protests

Lebanese troops fanned out in flash-point neighborhoods of Beirut on Tuesday morning shortly after the crowds had dispersed. Sources close to Hezbollah said the gatherings were intended to send a message and at the same time were a trial run for future potential action on the streets.

Mouin Merhebi, an anti-Hezbollah MP, accused the opposition of resorting to “armed mobs.”

But Wiam Wahhab, a pro-Syrian politician and ally of Hezbollah, urged the Lebanese security forces not to interfere with street protests against the tribunal.
“The Special Tribunal for Lebanon will never enter Lebanon,” he told Lebanon’s New TV channel.

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