Hariri’s death, ten years and 70 victims later at the Lebanon tribunal

11 February 2015 by Karina Hof, Leidschendam (The Netherlands)

On Saturday, Ehsan Fayed will be doing what she often does on 14 February: go to the home of her mother-in-law, gather with the wider family and, along with her two teenage daughters, visit the mosque where her husband is buried. His grave is not far from the shrine of former Lebanese prime minster Rafiq Hariri, the man Talal Nasser spent 23 years working as a bodyguard for and the man he spent his final minutes with when, on 14 February 2005, a bomb in downtown Beirut killed them and 20 others.

STL judges hear the prosecution's opening statement on 16 January 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos/POOL/Flickr/stlebanon)
Image caption: 
STL judges hear the prosecution's opening statement on 16 January 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos/POOL/Flickr/stlebanon)

“Every year we relive the moment,” Fayed tells IJT, “and it’s very hard to live that.” This coming anniversary is harder, she admits, because it demands awareness of how “life changes so much in ten years”. Fayed is a participating victim at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), where, since the Ayyash et al. trial opened 13 months ago, the prosecution has been presenting a case against five men charged with orchestrating the Hariri assassination.

To observers, the STL, its courtroom overwhelmed by black robes, sometimes feels only theoretical. The case’s luminary casualty is dead. All accused are being tried in absentia, their whereabouts unknown. However, the participating victims – a current total of 70, from a list of over 200 court-recognized injured victims – incarnate the very human horrors that prompted Lebanon to request the UN’s establishment of the international tribunal.

Like Fayed, some are the bereaved relatives of Hariri employees. Others lost loved ones, or were themselves innocent bystanders that day, working, driving or jogging near the attack site. 

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