The U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon revealed it issued arrest warrants for four members of Hezbollah wanted for the 2005 assassination of Hariri in a massive bombing in Beirut.
The tribunal, in statements Friday, said the trial in the Hariri case would start next year regardless of whether the suspects are in custody.
"I can confirm that the registrar indicated that a trial could begin at the STL in mid-2012," a tribunal representative told The Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon. "This date is an estimate that is being used for administrative planning at the tribunal."
Lebanese authorities reporting to the tribunal said they didn't have any luck in apprehending the four suspects, prompting the tribunal to release most of the information it had on the Hezbollah members.
Hezbollah tried to discredit the tribunal's evidence in the case, which relies in part on cellphone activity. Hezbollah claims Israel has infiltrated much of the Lebanese telecommunications sector, making the tribunal's case dubious.
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said the suspects would never be caught.