Hariri trial expected in late 2013, spokesman

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The trial in absentia of four Hezbollah members for the 2005 bombing that killed former Lebanese Premier Rafiq Hariri will likely start in late 2013, a court spokesman said on Tuesday.

“The prosecution has indicated the fourth quarter of 2013 as to when they would be ready for trial,” Marten Youssef, spokesman for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, told AFP.

“The defense and victims' representatives have said it's premature to set a date for when trial should start but they also identified fourth quarter 2013 as a potential date,” he said.

The trial had been due to start on March 25, but in February a judge granted a defense request for a postponement because prosecutors had not yet given the defense all the relevant information to prepare their cases.

Set up under a UN resolution in 2007 at Lebanon's request to probe Hariri's death, the court is expected to try four members of Hezbollah for the attack that killed Hariri and 22 other people.

The Shiite movement has accused the court of being an “Israel-American” conspiracy intended to destroy the group and has ruled out turning over the suspects.

Youssef also said the court had “taken a number of measures in response to the website that published the identities of alleged witnesses,” without giving details.

Earlier this month, a list of 167 alleged witnesses for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, along with photographs and details of their professions and addresses, was published by a previously unknown group identified as “Journalists for the truth.”

They said the publication was intended to “unveil the corruption” of the court.

After the list was published, the tribunal insisted it was incomplete but warned that those behind the publication were “potentially endangering the lives of Lebanese citizens.”