Final Ruling on Rafik Hariri’s Assassination Will Be Issued in May

Late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri
The verdict of the 15-year-old case will be declared mid-May. Via New Lebanon

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) announced on Thursday that the verdict of the investigations of the late Rafik Hariri’s assassination will be revealed in the middle of May 2020.

The judges of the STL’s Trial Chamber said that they would announce the specific date of the pronouncement of the Judgment “as soon as possible.” The final ruling will be disclosed in a public session 2 months from now.

While investigations of the former Prime Minister’s assassination commenced a few days after it took place on February 14th, 2005, the STL only began working on the case in January 2014.

Before the 2009-established STL took the lead in the investigation, it was the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission that was responsible for it.

Late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a car bombing in 2005
The bombing site in Beirut where Rafik Hariri was assassinated. Via Daily Star

Al-Akhbar has said that it’s unclear whether or not the verdict will be appealed, considering the 4 accused Hezbollah operatives (one of whom was assassinated in Syria in 2016) are being tried in absentia.

One of the operatives was assassinated in Syria in 2016
The 4 accused Hezbollah operatives. Via Arabia21

Similarly, the accused have been defended by lawyers without a legal agency, which has never happened in international courts before.

The STL will issue the verdict in the middle of May 2020
Judges at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Via Naharnet

In February, Trial Chamber II of the tribunal issued a decision to proceed with trialing Salim Ayyash, who is accused in the 2004-2005 attacks against Marwan Hamade, Georges Hawi, and Elias El-Murr, in addition to Rafik Hariri.

But since Ayyash has disappeared since his indictment in 2011, the STL will resort to trying him in his absence as a last measure.

Nonetheless, the tribunal has acknowledged also his right to a retrial should he appear in the future.

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