BEIRUT

Lebanon News

STL defense calls for trial postponement

Head of the Defense Office, Francois Roux, speaks before the Appeals Chamber in a public hearing in Leidschendam, near The Hague, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012. (The Daily Star/STL, HO)

BEIRUT: Defense attorneys at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon have called for postponing the trials of the four Hezbollah members indicted over the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the National News Agency reported over the weekend.

In a statement from the court’s defense, the lawyers said it was not possible for the trials, which are set for March 2013, to commence on time.

Mustafa Badreddine, Salim al-Ayyash, Hasan Aineysseh and Asad Sabra, all members of Hezbollah, were indicted by the international court in 2011. The resistance group denies any involvement in the case.

According to the statement, carried by the state-run agency Saturday, the defense attorneys are requesting the delay because they lack the needed time to fulfill their duties and review all the documents they have in their possession due the “failures” by the prosecution.

The lawyers said the prosecution had handed the defense team 469,000 pages of documents, 92 percent of which were received from Nov. 13, 2012 onward.

They also said that they had received terabytes of information that were not organized and that they lacked the software needed for organizing the files.

Hezbollah, which accuses the STL of being part of an "Israeli-American project,” says it will not aid the international court or hand over the suspects.

Badreddine, one of the suspects in the crime, is a cousin and a brother-in-law of Hezbollah’s slain commander Imad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated in Syria in 2008.

Badreddine eventually replaced Mughniyeh as Hezbollah’s chief operations officer.

According to the STL indictment, Badreddine masterminded and supervised the plot to assassinate the Lebanese statesman while, Ayyash, 48, is alleged to have headed the cell that carried out the assassination of Hariri.

Hariri was killed with 22 others on Feb. 14, 2005 when a massive blast struck his motorcade in a seafront district of Beirut.

Hariri, who was 60 when he was killed, headed five Lebanese governments between the years 1992 to 1998 and 2000 to 2004, when he stepped down from the premiership.

 

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