Hariri indictments: now arrests?
The special tribunal for Lebanon (STL) last week handed over its first set of indictments and four arrest warrants after a six-year investigation into the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. While the names were supposed to be kept secret, they were quickly leaked to the media. At least two of the suspects, Mustafa Badreddine and Salim Ayyash, are high-ranking members of the militant group Hezbollah.
It had been widely speculated that members of the Iranian and Syrian-backed group would be among those indicted. Hezbollah has denied any involvement and insists that the tribunal is a political conspiracy by Israel and the West to increase pressure on their organization. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, warned earlier this year that his group will ‘cut off the hands’ of anyone attempting to arrest its members. He has repeatedly denounced the UN-backed tribunal and vowed to retaliate.
Now that the names have been handed over, Lebanon is obliged to arrest and detain the suspects within 30 working days. Since Hezbollah is a dominating force in the new Lebanese government, few expect that to happen.