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Mandate for Hariri investigation extended

Feb. 23, 2012 at 9:56 AM

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Extending the mandate for a tribunal investigating the killing of a former Lebanese prime minister highlights the commitment to justice, the U.N. chief said.

The United Nations extended the mandate for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon for three years. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement through his spokesman's office, said the extension reaffirms the commitment to bring those responsible for the assassination of Rafik Hariri to justice.

The tribunal is investigating the 2005 bombing in which Hariri and more than 20 others were killed. Four members of Hezbollah are the tribunal's top suspects in the attack.

The suspects -- Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Ainessi and Assad Hassan Sabra -- will be tried in absentia.

Beirut was tasked with apprehending the alleged suspects. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, who described the tribunal as part of an Israeli plot, said they'd never be detained.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati suspended Cabinet sessions to avoid political conflicts over the mandate for the tribunal. Lawmakers with Hezbollah are among the members of Mikati's ruling coalition.

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