Lebanon News

Syrian security apparatus used to 'subjugate' Lebanon, Siniora tells STL

Former premier Fouad Siniora delivers testimony before the STL, Monday, March 23, 2015.

BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora began testifying before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Monday, recalling to the U.N.-backed court how Syria's security apparatus used to "subjugate" Lebanon.

Siniora, the most senior Lebanese political figure to appear before the The Hague-based court investigating the assassination of Rafik Hariri, also a former premier, is one of the prosecution’s so-called “political witnesses” called to speak to the political context in Lebanon at the time of Hariri’s 2005 assassination.

He testified that when Hariri formed a government in 1997, he was only allowed to appoint three minister who were fully loyal to him.

"He was compelled to confine his choices to three people... The other ministers were actually chosen by others, and in particular by the Syrian intelligence service."

Siniora, an outspoken opponent of the Syrian government, said that while former Syrian President Hafez Assad and Hariri often disagreed, the two had a civil relationship.

After a two hour meeting with Hafez Assad in 1997 about the political, economic and security situation in Lebanon, Hariri felt that "somebody was appreciating what he was saying."

But Hariri's relationship with Bashar Assad was of a different nature entirely, Siniora said.

Siniora served twice as Minister of Finance in governments headed by Hariri. He testified on Monday that he and Hariri were members of the Arab Nationalist Movement together in the early 60s. “We were friends, and we remained friends until his death,” Siniora told the court.

 

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