Tribunal to try suspected Rafik Hariri assassins in absentia


A UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri said it will try the four accused killers in absentia.

Hariri was killed in a massive bomb blast in central Beirut. The blast ripped apart his armored car, killing 21 other people and wounding 231.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, headquartered in the Netherlands, indicted the four men — members of the militant group Hezbollah — in June 2011 and made their identities public in July.

They were identified as Mustafa Badreddine, a Hezbollah commander who is also the suspected bombmaker for the 1983 bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans, Salim Ayyash, Assad Sabra and Hassan Oneissi, who changed his name to Hassan Issa, the Associated Press reported late last year.

The trial judges said "all reasonable steps have been taken to secure the appearance of the accused and to notify them of the charges against them," CNN reported.

Lebanese authorities had tried to locate the four men at homes and workplaces while their identities and the indictments against them had received "massive publicity" in Lebanon, making it clear the men were being sought, the judges reportedly said.

The AP reported that Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shiite militia, had refused to arrest the men.

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