DUBAI: The third and final stage of the trial of those charged with the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri has started at the special UN tribunal in The Hague on Tuesday.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s spokeswoman, Wajed Ramadan, said that this court is characterized as the first international court to prosecute the crime of terrorism in peacetime, as well as the first court to prosecute suspects in absentia based on Lebanese law.
Ramadan confirmed that the verdict in the case of the assassination of Hariri may require months, because of the large number of criminal cases, witnesses and statements submitted, stressing that the Lebanese state is obliged to search continuously for the accused.
On his part, Lebanese Prime Minister-elect Saad Hariri, on the sidelines of the trial, said that anyone who participated in the assassination of his father “will get justice sooner or later.”
Thirteen years after billionaire Hariri was killed by a huge suicide bomb in Beirut, the court in a suburb of The Hague will hear closing prosecution and defense arguments in the long-running case.
Four suspected members of the militant group Hezbollah are on trial at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) over the shock attack, which also killed 21 other people and injured 226.
Hezbollah has refused to turn over the four indicted men — Salim Ayyash, Hussein Oneissi, Assad Sabra and Hassan Habib Merhi — for the trial which began in January 2014.
But the tribunal is unique in international justice as it can try suspects in absentia, as well as for its ability to try accused perpetrators of an individual terrorist attack.
It is the first time a trial has happened without the suspects in the dock since 1945, when an international criminal jurisdiction was created for the Nuremberg trials after World War II.