Verdict on Hariri killing to be issued by UN-backed court, 15 years later

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A UN-backed tribunal is set to issue the verdict into the killing of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on Tuesday after postponing the initial announcement due to the Aug. 4 Beirut explosions.

Four members of the Iran-backed Shia group Hezbollah have been on trial in absentia over the killing of Hariri, Lebanon’s main Sunni Muslim leader. Hezbollah denies any role in the killing, which set the stage for years of confrontation, culminating in a brief civil war in 2008.

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Hariri was killed in 2005 by a suicide truck bomb on a seaside boulevard in Beirut that killed him and 21 others, and wounded 226 people.

Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah last week repeated previous comments that his group did not recognize the court and would not be affected by any verdict.

Read more: Hezbollah to ignore UN-backed tribunal over Rafik Hariri assassination: Nasrallah

Hariri’s son, Saad, also a former prime minister, landed in Holland on Monday night ahead of the ruling. A statement from the Saad Hariri’s office said that he would attend the three Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s sessions Tuesday. “[PM] Hariri will issue a statement following the announcement of the verdict,” the statement said.

Saad Hariri’s diplomatic adviser Basem Shabb told Reuters that many people were “waiting for this decision for closure.
This tribunal has cost not only money but blood.

“It will have consequences; I do not expect turmoil in the streets. I think Prime Minister Hariri was wise enough to make sure this does not turn into a sectarian issue,” he said.

On Monday, a French presidential source told Al Arabiya that the STL was formed by an international consensus and "its authority must be respected."

Read more: UN-backed court for Lebanon delays verdict in Hariri assassination after Beirut blast

- With Reuters, AP

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