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Hariri: Allegations against Hasan part of attack on STL
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Friday, Jan. 14, 2011. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Friday, Jan. 14, 2011. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri responded Wednesday to a local media report which hinted that late Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan was involved in Hariri’s 2005 assassination, saying such allegations were merely part of the campaign to tarnish the image of the STL.

“If the aim was another hysterical chapter of the campaign against the international tribunal as the trial date draws near, then we say to those who broadcast the interview that they missed such a chance... and that the date when justice will prevail has come,” Hariri said in a statement.

Al-Jadeed aired Tuesday an interview with Bo Astrom, one of the investigators of the U.N. International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) which probed the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri, saying that Hasan’s unusual absence from Hariri’s convoy which blew up was suspicious.

Hasan, who was killed in a car bomb late last year in a Beirut neighborhood, served as Hariri's top bodyguard during the Feb. 14 assassination before heading the Police branch of intelligence.

During the interview, Astrom said Hasan was supposed to be in the convoy and told the person who replaced him that day to take a specific route out of the three possible ones, adding that the late top security official was the only person who decided on which routes to take.

The former investigator also said that Hasan’s alibi was that he was taking a test at a university and that he only knew about the assassination later in the day because his phone was turned off.

Despite suspicion surrounding Hasan, Astrom said that Hariri’s son, Saad, kept Hasan in his post.

Asked for reasons behind the possible motive behind Hasan’s alleged role in the assassination, Astrom said he did not know but that such an act would be seen as a great treason.

In his statement, Saad Hariri described Al-Jadeed’s report as “disgusting” and that Hasan was exonerated from such charges which were previously investigated by the IIIC.

“Like the majority of the Lebanese, I found surprising and disgusting that some people would reach a point of political delirium and accuse a martyr of being involved in killing another martyr,” he said.

He added that such charges were investigated by the IIIC in 2010 after Canada’s CBC broadcasted similar allegations “citing the same source.”

“The commission finalized investigation and for the second time, the martyr Wissam al-Hasan was absent from Hariri’s convoy for obvious reasons,” he said.

“If the aim of repeating this nonsense once again is to raise tension among the Lebanese including the Hariri family, then this is an occasion to affirm once again that we consider Maj. Gen. Hassan as one of our own and he is our martyr as much as Rafik Hariri is,” Hariri said.

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