hariri

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vladimir djurovic | completes stepped hariri memorial, beirut, lebanon

ex-prime minister of lebanon rafic hariri was an important figure in the ambitious reconstruction efforts of war-torn beirut’s historic center. after his assassination on february 14th, 2005, landscape architect vladimir djurovic was commissioned to design a public space and memorial to honor hariri’s accomplishments. located near the center, the sloping triangular site was left as open as possible to free some breathing space in a densely packed urban fabric. gently sloping granite steps connect two patches of grassy lawn located at either end of the site, lined with jacaranda trees that inject a sense of cyclical rebirth. each of the steps leading into the town speaks to its rebuilding and offer a short promenade inviting visitors. alongside the steps, granite slabs contain vast pools of calmly flowing water that mark the continuity of the city.

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Rafik Hariri’s murder trial began today at the Hague. I living in Lebanon in 2005 when he assassinated and witnessed the massive protests and events that followed.

Here’s the comic I wrote in 2011 comic about my experiences during that time. As a minicomic, it was listed as a notable publication by Best American Comics 2013. 

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You can also read it on my website with this clickthrough.

Lebanon Tribunal releases previously secret details in Hariri killing

by Richard Allen Greene

(CNN) — The special court trying to bring the killers of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri to justice published Wednesday previously secret details of the case against four men it has charged.

Prosecutors assert that the ringleader of the group had earlier been sentenced to death in Kuwait over the 1983 bombings of the U.S. and French embassies there.

The suspect, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, escaped from prison in 1990 when Saddam Hussein’s forces invaded Kuwait, the tribunal says in the indictment.

He and three other men were indicted by the United Nations-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon in June, and their identities and the charges against them were made public last month. But they remain at-large.

The tribunal says it asked Lebanese authorities on June 30 to arrest Badreddine, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra.

As of August 9, there had been no progress, the court said Wednesday.

The four are accused of involvement in the bombing that ripped apart Hariri’s armored car in Beirut on February 14, 2005. It destroyed his motorcade, killing him and 21 others, and injuring 231 people.

Badreddine was the ringleader, prosecutors charge. Ayyash was the head of what they call the “assassination team,” and Oneissi and Sabra were involved in planting a false claim of responsibility in the media, prosecutors say.

They add that all four are supporters of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group, and that Badreddine and Ayyash are related to one of its founders.

In a speech, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the indictment contained “no direct evidence” against the men. “The text (of the indictment) is based on circumstantial evidence whose credibility is contested,” he said. “This makes us more convinced that what is happening is highly unjust and politicized, and this is unfair to the suspects.”

Investigators pieced together a timeline of the assassination plot dating back at least as far as November 11, 2004, based on cell phone data.

They identified five networks of cell phones, including one they claim was used by the assassination team. Prosecutors label that the “Red Network.”

A “Green Network” was used by leaders of the operation, with the last call between phones in that group made about an hour before the blast. Prosecutors assume that that 14-second last call was final authorization for the attack to go ahead.

The last call on the Red Network was made about five minutes before the explosion, prosecutors allege.

Cell phone data suggests that Hariri had been under surveillance for at least 15 days before he was killed. It also places Ayyash in the location where the vehicle used in the bombing was bought, the indictment says.

Prosecutors concede in the indictment that the charges are based heavily on circumstantial evidence, but they argue that such information “can be stronger than direct evidence” because it does not rely on things like potentially faulty witness accounts.

Hariri’s supporters say the businessman-turned-politician was killed because of his opposition to Syria’s long-time military presence in his country, and his death led to popular protests, nicknamed the “Cedar Revolution,” that led Damascus to withdraw its troops.

Syria has denied accusations that it was behind the bombing.

The special tribunal’s prosecutor welcomed the publishing of previously confidential parts of the indictment.

Unsealing the indictment “answers many questions about the 14 February 2005 attack,” Daniel Bellemare said in a statement. “The full story will however only unfold in the courtroom, where an open, public, fair and transparent trial will render a final verdict.”

Judge Antonio Cassese, the president of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, last week publicly urged the suspects to cooperate.

He said in an open letter to the four men that they will be treated fairly if they appear before the court or participate in the trial proceedings without being present.

Cassese issued the statement after Lebanese authorities told him they had been unable to serve the accused warrants and arrest them.

In Washington, the State Department lauded the process. “This process is a means of ending the era of impunity for the terrible and tragic violence that has touched all of Lebanon’s communities,” the department said in a statement.

CNN’s Nada Husseini contributed to this report.

UN tribunal releases Hariri indictment

Commentary:

I was 3 blocks away when the bomb went off.

Even now, I can still hear and smell the scene.

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UN tribunal investigating former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri’s killing lifts confidentiality restrictions.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has lifted confidentiality restrictions on an indictment issued in its investigation into the killing of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister blown up by a car bomb in 2005.

Wednesday’s move means details of the case against four men named as suspects by the tribunal in June and subject to arrest warrants can be revealed for the first time. The UN-established tribunal said in a statement it had taken the step in order that the case could “proceed to trial”.

The four men named by the STL - Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra - are all members of Hezbollah.

The documents describe a network of phones, which have been colour-coded to highlight their different functions, that are alleged to have been used by the suspects in co-ordinating the attack in which 21 other people also died.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/08/201181773445852950.html

Lebanon tribunal asks for Hariri trial in absentia


Hariri’s killing plunged Lebanon into a series of political crises and assassinations that led to clashes in May 2008, dragging the country to the brink of conflict in a country still scarred by its 1975-1990 civil war.Pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen, who is responsible for ensuring the trial is prepared fairly, asked the Hague-based court to “determine whether proceedings in absentia should be considered.”Under the tribunal’s rules, judges can consider whether to start a trial without the suspects being present if they have not been arrested within 30 days of the indictment’s public advertisement.The suspects were named in July as Mustafa Amine Badreddine, a senior Hezbollah figure and brother-in-law of slain Hezbollah commander Imad Moughniyeh, as well as Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra.Warrants for their arrest were issued by the tribunal the previous month but Lebanon told the court in August that it had been unable to track any of them down.However, in an interview with Time magazine, a man who identified himself as one of the suspects, said that same month that the authorities knew where he lived but were unable to arrest him.Hezbollah, both a political movement and guerrilla army, toppled the government of Hariri’s son, Saad al-Hariri, in January after he resisted calls to renounce the tribunal.Hezbollah’s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has dismissed the indictments as a failed attempt to sow strife and bring down Lebanon’s new Hezbollah-backed government and in July said the tribunal was a tool of U.S. and Israeli policy.The court’s trial chamber will now have to decide whether the trial can start without the suspects present.The court’s registrar, Herman von Hebel, said last week he expected a decision by early November on whether to proceed with a trial in absentia and that such a trial could then start in the second half of next year.Trials at international war crimes courts court often take several years to be completed.The Special Tribunal for Lebanon would appoint defense counsel if the trial were to start without the suspects present.


Indictment

For months now, we, Lebanese, have been hearing about a possible indictment being issued in an international tribunal, made especially to bring justice to the murderers of previous Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.

As the date drew nearer, the political scene in Lebanon grew tenser. Some parties (we all know who they are) started to cry foul - saying the indictment is false without it being released yet. And at the moment of writing this, there was nothing mentioned about the possible contents of this indictment except pure speculation.

Wouldn’t it be wiser if these parties just waited for the indictment to be issued to take an official stance and do what they’re doing now, which is basically crumbling down the foundations of Lebanon by collapsing the government and threatening strife?

Wouldn’t it just be too ironic if the indictment came out and it actually did not accuse these specific parties of the murder of Rafic Hariri? This is a possibility. I doubt the Special Tribunal wouldn’t take the constant rambling about these “false witnesses”, which was the apparent cause of what’s happening today, seriously. This Tribunal is ran by professionals who, unlike many Lebanese judges, actually know what they’re doing. If they have reason to believe these witnesses were indeed lying, it’s very probable that they annulled their testimonies. But being the professionals that they are, they didn’t divulge it to the public.

All I know is, ruining the country for a “what-if” scenario is not healthy. And it’s always the case. This specific party has been basically shoving its ideas down our throats, without even any room for negotiations. Why? because they are well-armed. We cannot become a fully functional society, built on equality, unless the people of this society do not fear each other. When I need to be careful with what I post online about specific countries and about this specific group, you know you’re not in a healthy place. It might be that they are affected by the country that fuels them through military and ideological means… but this is Lebanon, the free-est country in the region, where I shouldn’t be afraid to say what I really feel.

Let me finish by saying this… if someone’s really innocent, they don’t need to fear an indictment.

Woah woah woah. This is huge.  

Six years on, after numerous setbacks, the UN investigation into Hariri’s assassination has named names. Rather than just fingers pointed in the vague direction of (Syrian-supported) Hezbollah, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has finally requested that the Lebanese government arrest four people. The names of the four swiftly leaked to local press - and they are all Hezbollah figures.

Will they be arrested?  What political upheaval will this lead to in Lebanon?  

I for one will be watching with a keen eye. From January to June, the country carried on as normal, all the while without a government. The previous coalition government collapsed when Hezbollah realised Saad Hariri would never withdraw support for the tribunal investigating his own father’s murder.  Politicians changed allegiances, unceremoniously ousting Saad Hariri from his prime ministerial position. After five months of bickering, the new Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced a cabinet dominated not by Hezbollah, but most definitely by Hezbollah and its allies. Not even three weeks later, this new government faces an extraordinary challenge. Everyone will be observing what happens, those both within Lebanon and beyond its borders.

I imagine demonstrations will take place whether or not the arrests are made. Martyrs’ Square in Downtown will no doubt be filled by the March 14 movement’s supporters if the government languishes in inaction. Or by supporters of Hezbollah and the March 8 alliance if those indicted are arrested.  

All this comes at the worst possible time for Lebanese people, many of whom will have been hoping to benefit from the tourism dollars of the summer season. Normally the one making headlines, it was business as usual in Lebanon, an island of (relative) calm, in contrast to the turmoil of revolution in nearby Arab nations.

But the decisions and events subsequent to the tribunal’s indictments will once again raise questions over the country’s stability. I only hope, perhaps naively, that the answers are peaceful.  

Watch on marcinlebanon.tumblr.com

lebanon prime minister talks syria, tribunal

"BEIRUT — A U.N.-mandated court charged with investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri named four members of the Shiite group Hezbollah as the perpetrators, according to an indictment released Wednesday that raised as many questions as it answered about the killing, which polarized Lebanon.”

A supporter of former prime minister Saad Hariri walks in front of burning tires in the southern port city of Sidon during protests over Hezbollah’s rising power, January 25, 2011. AP