The Hezbollah member convicted of the assassination of back-then Lebanon’s prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 should receive a life sentence, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.
Judges on Tuesday were hearing evidence from the prosecution, victims, and the defense about what sentence 56-year-old Salim Ayyash should receive.
“The severest penalty available to the tribunal for the offences is life imprisonment, and in the submission of the prosecution that is the only just and proportionate sentence,” prosecutor Nigel Povoas told the court.
However, the sentencing itself will happen at a later date.
Salim Ayyash was found guilty in absentia for the killing of former PM Rafik Hariri by an UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Netherlands on August 18th. The three other alleged members of the movement – Assad Sabra, Hussein Oneissi, and Hassan Habib Merhi – were let go.
In their long-awaited ruling in August, judges said there was enough evidence to prove that Ayyash was at the center of a network of mobile phone users who figured out Hariri’s movements for months before his assassination.
Yet, there was not enough sufficient evidence to charge Ayyash’s other three co-defendants.
“Why life imprisonment? These were offenses of extreme gravity, it’s hard to imagine offenses of this type more serious than this,” Povoas said. “This is considered to be the most serious terrorist attack that has occurred on Lebanese soil.”
Prosecutors are also arguing for a takeover of Ayyash’s assets.
The judges added that there was no concrete evidence to bond Hezbollah’s leadership or its allies in Damascus to the attack.