A special UN court set up to investigate the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri has begun work in the Hague.
Lebanon is holding seven suspects, including four generals, and prosecutors are expected to call for their transfer to the court. Patricia O’Brien, the UN Under-Secretary for Legal Affairs, said: “The special tribunal for Lebanon is distinguished from other international criminal tribunals. An international prosecutor and a Lebanese deputy prosecutor will be heading the investigation and the prosecutions.” Hariri and 22 others were killed in a car bomb attack in Beirut in February 2005. Some anti-Syrian politicians in Lebanon have accused Syria of being behind the bombing, a claim denied by Damascus. Anti-Syrian deputies have welcomed the court’s opening, including Marwan Hamadeh. He said: “It is the beginning of truth, the beginning of justice and I think it’s a page being opened in the history of Lebanon, a page of justice, the end of impunity and it’s a lesson for many regimes around us in the Middle East.” The UN prosecutor says he will pursue what he calls a principled approach based solely on the facts and will not be swayed by political considerations.