BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri hinted Friday Hezbollah was behind the assassination of his senior aide, former Minister Mohammad Shatah, saying the killing was another message to the March 14 coalition.
"Those who assassinated Mohammad Shatah are the ones who assassinated Rafik Hariri; they are the ones who want to assassinate Lebanon,” Hariri said in a statement hours after a car bomb killed Shatah and five others in Downtown Beirut.
"The suspects are those who are running away from international justice and refuse to appear in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon; they are the ones opening the window of evil and chaos to Lebanon and the Lebanese and are drawing regional fires,” he added.
Hariri, who has been abroad for over two years for security reasons, also said the perpetrators would not stop until they drag the country into strife “as long as there are [people] in Lebanon covering up the crimes, burying their heads in the sand, and justifying the proliferation of arms and the establishment of armed groups at the expense of the state and the institutions."
"This is the latest terrorist message to us; we, in the Future Movement and the March 14 coalition, are the free Lebanese,” he said.
Describing Shatah as a friend and a companion, Hariri, the head of the Future Movement, said the veteran diplomat's journey was an inspiration.
"your name will be loudly pronounced at the opening sessions of the International Tribunal in a few days in The Hague," he said.
"Your name will remain one of the beacons of light of Lebanon’s civilization, progress and future and your biography will remain a milestone to inspire our political life,” he added.