STL independent, France tells Beirut

Oct. 27, 2010 at 10:08 AM
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PARIS, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- The U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon is an autonomous entity that should be free of external influence, the French prime minister said in Paris.

French Prime Minister Bernard Kouchner greeted Nabih Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, in Paris. The French minister said Paris was ready to welcome Lebanese officials to address concerns arising from pending indictments for a U.N.-backed tribunal probing the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Kouchner added that the Paris government felt the STL was an independent body that shouldn't be subject to external meddling, Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper reports.

"No country can influence the court and no one has any details about the indictment," he was quoted as saying.

Kouchner added that the recent visit to the Hezbollah south of Lebanon by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did little to ease tensions.

Beirut is bracing for indictments from the STL as early as this year. Hezbollah objects to the probe, saying it is part of a broader plot launched by its arch foe Israel.

Hezbollah in August said it had evidence to suggest Israel played a role in the assassination. The Shiite resistance movement, however, is widely believed to have taken part in the slaying of the former prime minister.

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