THE HAGUE: Though many of the victims present at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Thursday lost family members and loved ones, others participating in the trial are doing so because the bombing wreaked havoc on their livelihoods.
Mahmoud Wazzane, one of the participating victims, said the bombing destroyed a business that he spent three years building up and on which his family depended.
“I lost a business, I lost a livelihood, and a lot of hope,” he told The Daily Star after the first session.
Wazzane had a shop that provided document and business services at the Starco Center, on the side facing the explosion.
He said he had spent a lot of money getting the business “on its feet” for its first three years. “My family and I were living off the business until the explosion happened, and then we lost everything,” he said.
Two of Wazzane’s employees were wounded in the attack, which, he said, caused hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage.
He mostly remembers the broken glass and the roof of the second floor of his shop falling in as he arrived an hour after the explosion.
“All gone,” he said.
Wazzane added that he was “excited” to participate in the trial.
“I thought it would give me a chance to know who did this, and eventually when we get a [conviction], perhaps we could look the person in the eye and say, ‘Look at me, this is what you’ve done to me,’” he said. “They have to know that they are hurting people and they are ruining lives.”
Lawyers for the victims are expected to speak Friday before the trial chamber. Victims who wish to make a statement before the court will have to seek permission from the judges.
Peter Haynes, the lead lawyer of the victims, said it was difficult for them to see images of the devastation.
“It is difficult if you see an image, a completely decimated car and you know your husband was driving it, it takes you to a place that you’re not psychologically comfortable with,” he said.
Haynes said victims he spoke to who arrived the day before trial didn’t believe they would ever see the day when trial would begin.
“One person in particular said, ‘If this was the last thing I saw, I’d be happy,’” Haynes told The Daily Star during a break in the court sessions. “So there’s a great sense of relief and rejoicing.”
“It’s a huge day because it has started,” he added. “It’s on the road.”