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Victims’ lawyers appeal for justice

Prime Minister Saad Hariri receives families of people who were killed in explosions in Beirut, in his residence at the Hague, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. (The Daily Star/HO)

THE HAGUE: Lawyers representing the 65 victims participating in the trial spoke for the first time before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Friday, making an emotional appeal to end decades of impunity in Lebanon.

Nada Abdel-Sater, one of the victims’ lawyers and the first Lebanese to address the chamber since the start of the trial, called it a “great day.”

“There is still justice in this world,” she said. “Governing through murder, through terror became the usual means of doing politics in Lebanon to subdue the Lebanese people.”

Abdel-Sater, who named all the victims in the courtroom, said that a “mountain of terror and subjugation” had smothered Lebanon for decades before the eyes of the international community.

She called the tribunal a “lever” of justice that could alter the course of history and said the lack of justice for assassinations in Lebanon was the reason the former premier was killed.

“Had there been a tribunal to try previous political assassinations in Lebanon, Rafik Hariri would not have been assassinated,” she said.

Haynes, for his part, said the victims were part of a “large breadth” of sect, religion and background.

He also reiterated the independence of the victims’ team. “We are not the prosecution’s deputy. We are not the Hariri family’s lawyers.”

Haynes introduced victims whose families bore the scars of psychological distress after the attack.

One victim suffered amnesia in the attack and lost her sense of taste and smell. Another survived three bombings in Lebanon and jokes that her luck will run out, Haynes said.

The wife of one of the victims of the attack was five-months pregnant and her son now asks about his father, he said.

The wife of Abdel-Hamid Ghalayeeni was also present, a man who was jogging near the St. Georges Hotel when the bombing killed him.

Haynes also introduced Saad Hariri, saying he was there as a “son who lost his father,” not as a politician or former head of state.

The victims suffered a sense of “hopelessness” and frustration with the political process, and the trial aims to provide them with closure.

“That is why we are here,” Haynes said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 18, 2014, on page 2.

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Summary

Lawyers representing the 65 victims participating in the trial spoke for the first time before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Friday, making an emotional appeal to end decades of impunity in Lebanon.

Abdel-Sater, who named all the victims in the courtroom, said that a "mountain of terror and subjugation" had smothered Lebanon for decades before the eyes of the international community.

She called the tribunal a "lever" of justice that could alter the course of history and said the lack of justice for assassinations in Lebanon was the reason the former premier was killed.


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