15 years have passed since the fateful assassination of late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
For the past decade and a half, the topic of the investigation into the bloody stop in Lebanon’s recent history has remained a pivotal one that is expected to have a heavy impact on the country when its results come out.
These results, which will reveal the responsibilities behind the bomb that killed Hariri and 21 others, were supposed to have been out earlier this month, if not the 2,750-ton ammonium nitrate blast that struck Beirut.
But the impact of the explosion did not push the verdict far off into the future.
On Tuesday, August 18th, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will make the declaration that has been 15 years in the making, finally bringing the answer to the old question, while also threatening additional internal tensions.
The increasing tensions stem from the fact that Hezbollah, a major player in the Lebanese political playground, is a primary suspect for the assassination.
4 members of the organization, one of whom was assassinated in Syria a few years ago, have been trialed in absentia and exceptionally defended without a legal agency, which has raised the question of whether the verdict will be appealed.
For Hezbollah, whether or not the STL indicts its members, they “do not feel concerned by the STL’s decisions,” said its Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in a Friday televised speech.
“If our brothers are unjustly sentenced, as we expect, we will maintain their innocence,” he said.
Hezbollah has repeatedly denied involvement in Hariri’s assassination and refused to hand over its members for trial despite several arrest warrants issued by the STL over the years.
In the end, if the verdict points its finger at Hezbollah as an organization in the killing, internal and international pressure on it is expected to mount.
Regardless of Hezbollah’s attitude in relation to it, the awaited verdict will be reopening one of Lebanon’s largest wounds and is expected to add to the unsettling uncertainty that is Lebanon’s future.