“A UN-backed tribunal says it has not been able to establish any link between a 2005 blast in Beirut that killed Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafiq Hariri and the Hezbollah resistance movement or the Syrian government.
The so-called Special Tribunal for Lebanon (SDL) read out a summary of the 2,600-page verdict at The Hague on Tuesday after trying for 15 years and spending some $1 billion to prove allegations of association between the explosion and the Lebanese resistance movement or Damascus.
“There is no evidence that the Hezbollah leadership had any involvement in Mr. Hariri’s murder and there is no direct evidence of Syrian involvement,” said Judge David Re.
Lebanon’s an-Nahar daily ran the headline, “International Justice Defeats Intimidation” even before the decision was announced, referring to extensive attempts by certain parties within and outside the country to implicate the resistance group in the crime.
Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah had also said on Friday that he was not concerned about the proceedings, and that if any members of the resistance movement were claimed to be guilty, Hezbollah would stand by their innocence.
The tribunal, however, did not stop short of echoing those who have been trying to make the unfounded allegations against the resistance group and Damascus.
“The trial chamber is of the view that Syria and Hezbollah may have had motives to eliminate Mr. Hariri and his political allies,” the judge said.
Observers said the latter part of the verdict showed that the countries that forced the United Nations Security Council into forming the tribunal in the first place — based on unproven hypotheses, without any legal basis, and in violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty — were still influencing the verdicts that it issues.
Hezbollah — which has rejected the jurisdiction and independence of the court — has denied any link to or interest in the atrocity.
The group has invariably proven itself as a unifying factor in the country, including by forcing Israel into retreat in the occupying regime’s 2000 and 2006 wars on the country.
Israel’s Channel 1 once alleged an association between four people with alleged links to Hezbollah and the 2005 explosion.
The tribunal considered the allegations worthy of its consideration and convicted one of the four, whom it identified as “the main defendant.”
Even with regard to the four, lawyers appointed by the tribunal itself said there was no physical evidence linking them to the crime and that they had to be acquitted.
Hezbollah has condemned the tribunal for serving as an opportunity for Tel Aviv to achieve its “unachieved” goals in Lebanon.”
“The US exited the Iran nuclear deal and therefore has no right to demand a ‘snapback’ of UN sanctions on Tehran, the foreign ministers of three European powers involved in the JCPOA said in response to Washington’s latest push.
“France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the so-called E3, note that the United States has not been a member of the JCPOA since their withdrawal from the agreement on May 8, 2018,” their respective foreign ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian, Heiko Maas and Dominic Raab said in a statement on Thursday.
Therefore, the E3 “cannot support” the US demand for UN sanctions against Iran to be reimposed, as it is “inconsistent” with their current efforts to implement the deal, the trio added.
JCPOA stands for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the name given to the 2015 nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama administration, endorsed by all five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.
Citing UNSC Resolution 2231, which codified the deal, US envoy to the UN Kelly Craft officially requested the “snapback” of sanctions on Thursday, accusing Iran of “significant non-compliance” with the deal. However, China has previously pointed out that the US is not eligible to make that request, having exited the treaty unilaterally. The E3 statement indicates the Europeans share Beijing’s stance on the issue.
The E3 statement came during the press conference US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was giving at the UN, declaring confidently that the rules of the Security Council are “straightforward” and will lead to the sanctions being restored.