THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri said on Tuesday he is not seeking revenge for the 2005 car bombing that killed his father, ex-premier Rafik Hariri, and that he would act to preserve stability in his country.
Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri speaks to the media in front of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon ahead of the closings arguments in the trial of Lebanon’s Rafik al-Hariri alleged killers in the Hague, the Netherlands September 11, 2018. Bas Czerwinski/Pool via REUTERS
He spoke as prosecutors presented closing arguments in the case before a U.N.-backed tribunal against four suspects accused of carrying out the attack that killed Hariri and 21 others.
“We have always wanted justice and have not resorted to revenge,” Hariri, who attended the court session in The Hague, told journalists. He added that dealing with the assassination of his father in court was difficult as a son but he had to put his feelings aside.
“There are things that hurt, but when in a position of responsibility, we have to look at the country’s interest.”
Four alleged members of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement have been tried in absentia on charges of planning and executing the bombing in Beirut, which rocked the religiously divided country.
Wrapping up the prosecution case, Nigel Povoas said that Lebanon had been “plunged into darkness and horror” by the murder of Hariri.
GUILTY AS CHARGED
The prosecution presented a “mosaic of evidence…(that) leaves no reasonable doubt that all are guilty as charged,” Povoas said.
The trial lasted more than four years during which 307 witnesses were called. The defendants, who remain at large, face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
In the absence of a smoking gun, prosecutors presented a complicated case based mostly on identifying five different, overlapping networks of disposable phones they said were used to carry out the bombing and attempt to manipulate media coverage afterwards by orchestrating a false claim of responsibility.
On Tuesday, prosecutors also focused on the links between the four accused, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Assad Hassan Sabra and Hussein Hassan Oneissi, to Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah. The four “shared a bond, in their common support for and links to Hezbollah”, he said.
Hezbollah denies any role in the killing of Hariri, a Sunni Muslim who had close ties with Iran’s regional adversary Saudi Arabia, and dismissed the tribunal as a tool of Israel and the United States.
The closing arguments will run until Sept. 21 with the defense expected to start on Friday. No date has been set for a verdict but it is expected next year.
Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Mark Heinrich