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The court sessions of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that open in The Hague Thursday to try five people accused of being involved in the killing of the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri represent a potentially significant moment in the long, ugly and continuing history of political violence in the Middle East.The final verdict on the STL must emerge after the trials are held, the evidence and arguments presented, witnesses questioned, and public opinion heard on all these issues.More significant in the long run is the judicial and legal performance of the STL, which should only be judged on the basis of the quality of the judicial proceedings and the credibility of the evidence and arguments by both sides.Lebanon on its own has never been able to do this, despite many assassinations and bombings over the years, perpetrated by Lebanese or foreign parties.The politics of the STL are equally contentious, and Hezbollah in particular has provided evidence that aims to discredit the whole process as an American-Israeli-guided political adventure that seeks mainly to punish and constrain Syria and the resistance party.
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