Political Editor: The Majalla
on : Friday, 19 Aug, 2011
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Word is Out

Special Tribunal on Lebanon hands over uncensored indictments

Already rumors and speculation are spreading regarding elements of the indictments handed over on Wednesday by the Special Tribunal on Lebanon. With the uprising continuing in the Levant, is this another straw for the camel's back?
The silhouette of a rifle obstructs a giant TV screen featuring Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah

The silhouette of a rifle obstructs a giant TV screen featuring Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah

For six years the cloud of the assassination of popular Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the ongoing investigation into the attack that took his life and the lives of 22 others has hung over the head of Lebanon. On Wednesday The Special Tribunal on Lebanon handed over its much anticipated uncensored indictments also naming the four members of Hezbollah, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra, charged only weeks ago with involvement in the attack that killed Hariri in February 2005.

Until now, only partial indictments had been released. Already rumors are milling about the substantive elements of the case including the case’s heavy reliance on telecommunications related evidence, according to leaks from within the Tribunal to German newspaper Der Spiegel and to Canadian television news network CBC.

According to the Tribunal investigators, they were able to extrapolate a conspiracy from the time and place that certain phones were used within the Hezbollah network and were able to link the phones to their owners through other patterns of use. The investigators identified five networks, which they are calling each the Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, and Purple phones. The case claims that each of these networks was used to direct different aspects of the assassination conspiracy.

The case is reaching a climax at a time when the Levant is seemingly particularly vulnerable. Lebanon’s neighbor and suspected co-conspirator in the assassination of Hariri, is in the throes of a violent uprising. Syria’s involvement has long been tied to the assassination since the report by Detlev Mehlis, the German prosecutor who lead the 10-week investigation immediately after the Hariri attack. He first suggested that a full investigation would show sufficient probable cause to believe that “The decision to assassinate former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri could not have been taken without the approval of top-ranked Syrian security officials and could not have been further organized without the collusion of their counterparts in the Lebanese security services.”

Also, some claim that a slow re-arming for war is taking place between Israel and Hezbollah, with London newspaper The Observer reporting last month that the militant group was fortifying itself in South Lebanon in advance of what it believed was an imminent war with Israel. Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah has condemned the indictments, accusing the tribunal of being a foreign project that will put Lebanon’s vulnerable Shiites at risk, according to his comments on Wednesday in a video screened to mark the end of a Ramadan fasting day.

The Majalla will be keeping a close eye on the evolution of the Tribunal and the reactions from the region, but for some background on the trial, Daniel F. Rivera’s piece, History Repeats Itself, looks at some of the dynamics of the tribunal within Lebanon.

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