BEIRUT: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon issued a public service announcement Monday urging the fifth suspect in the assassination of late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri to participate in the trial proceedings.
"This message is part of a public advertisement campaign to inform the accused of his rights and to also invite the public to submit information concerning the whereabouts of the accused to Lebanese authorities," the STL said in a statement posted on its website.
"The Tribunal's President, Judge Sir David Baragwanath, reminds the accused of their right to participate in the proceedings. By participating, the accused can fully defend themselves against the charges and evidence presented against them,” it added.
Last week, the U.N.-backed court accused a fifth member of the resistance group, Hassan Habib Merhi, of involvement in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Hariri and 22 others were killed in a car bomb that targeted the MP’s convoy in Beirut shortly after the official had left Parliament in Downtown.
The tribunal has issued an arrest warrant against Merhi that was referred to Lebanese authorities, along with the indictment, in August.
Lebanon has failed to apprehend the four suspects whose trial in absentia is expected to begin on Jan. 13 of next year.
Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra were accused in 2011 for involvement in the killing.
Hezbollah has denied the allegations and dubbed the court as an Israeli-American tool aimed at targeting the group and sowing strife in Lebanon. Its chief, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, has said that the four would never be apprehended.
In the PSA, the court which was established by a U.N. Security Council resolution said the trial proceedings would be conducted according to the highest international standards.