The UN-backed Lebanon Tribunal on Friday sentenced a Hezbollah member convicted of conspiring to kill former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in a 2005 bombing to five terms of life imprisonment.
Salim Jamil Ayyash was found guilty in August of homicide and committing a terrorist act over the deaths of Hariri and 21 others in the attack on Beirut's waterfront.
The trial was conducted in absentia and Ayyash remains at large. Three alleged accomplices were acquitted due to insufficient evidence.
“The attack was intended to spread terror in Lebanon and indeed did,” Australian Judge David Re said in reading out the court's decision. “The trial chamber is satisfied it should
impose the maximum sentence for each of the five crimes of a life sentence to be served concurrently.”
Hariri's assassination plunged Lebanon into what was then its worst crisis since its 1975-90 civil war, setting the stage for years of confrontation between rival political forces.
“Mr Ayyash's crimes are extremely grave, he had a central role in the attack,” Judge Janet Nosworthy said.
“Lebanon is a parliamentary democracy, its politicians and leaders should be removed from office at the ballot box rather than by the bullet or a bomb,” she said.
Prosecutors had called for a life sentence for each of the five counts Ayyash was convicted of.