Hezbollah sheikh dismisses tribunal
There was no immediate comment from Hezbollah on the release of the indictments. Hezbollah is expected to take a publicly aloof attitude to the announcement.
On Friday, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, said in a speech that the tribunal was no longer of any consequence to his party. “We are through with the issue of the tribunal since a long time,” he said. “We are not concerned with any scenario concerning the tribunal.”
Media leaks over the past two years claimed that the tribunal had discovered an alleged connection between Hezbollah and the assassination of Hariri, who died in a massive van bomb explosion in downtown Beirut in February 2005, a blast that also claimed the lives of 22 other people.
The Syrian regime was widely suspected of ordering Hariri’s murder, as relations between Damascus and the former prime minister had deteriorated drastically in the months leading to the assassination. Syria had 15,000 troops in Lebanon at the time, but Hariri’s death spurred a series of mass street protests which, along with international pressure, forced Damascus to withdraw its troops two months later.
There followed a string of assassinations of prominent Lebanese politicians, security officials, and journalists – most of whom had been openly critical of Syria’s role in Lebanon. An initial report by UN investigators in October 2005 found “converging evidence” that senior Lebanese and Syrian officials had planned Hariri’s assassination.