THE HAGUE: Witnesses resumed testifying before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's trial chamber Friday, with one requesting protective measures due to the security situation in Lebanon and another recounting the horrifying ordeal of his brother who died 12 hours after the explosion that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, buried under the rubble at the St. George Hotel.
Nazih Abu Rujeily, the fourth witness to testify before the court, recounted his brother's death over videolink from a facility in Beirut.
His brother Zahi was working at the St. Georges Hotel, 100 meters from the explosion.
After finding out about the attack on TV, Nazih rushed with his sister-in-law to search for his brother but did not find him among the wounded and charred bodies at the American University Hospital.
The family went to the crime scene at 8 p.m. and then to a nearby police station in the Starco area in Downtown Beirut to report Zahi missing, urging officers to search for him in the rubble. But the officers refused, saying they had already surveyed the area and all the bodies had been removed.
The next morning, Zahi arrived again at the crime scene only to be told his brother's body was found under the rubble and taken in an ambulance to AUH, now the AUB Medical Center.
There, he found the body, which appeared untouched by any flames. There was only one single drop of fresh blood on him, said an emotional Nazih.
His brother had died 12 hours after the explosion, likely suffocating under the rubble.
“When we reported it and if somebody heard from us, perhaps he would not have died,” said Nazih. “Maybe he died suffocating, or screaming out 'save me.'”
“Imagine your honors 12 hours in which this man is suffering,” he said. “This death, the torture of his soul as it rose, we cannot forget that.”
“If he died quickly he would not have stayed for several hours, and how tortured he was and what he said, that's what we're wondering.”
“Nobody helped us or thought about us,” he said.
A second witness testified before the court after requesting protective measures because of the tense security situation in Lebanon.
The witness, identified only as PRH 352, spoke briefly with their voice and image distorted. The court went into closed session to hear the testimony.
One more witness is expected to testify before the court Friday.