Defense for Hariri suspect wants delay

Oct. 14, 2013 at 12:04 PM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- A lawyer for a suspected member of Hezbollah tied to the 2005 slaying of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri said he wants the tribunal's case delayed.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon last week confirmed an arrest warrant was issued in August in secret for Hassan Habib Merhi for his alleged role in the attack and he remains on the run. The Lebanese government said Sept. 6 it couldn't locate him.

Defense lawyers David Young and Guenael Mettraux were quoted by The Daily Star newspaper as saying they were frustrated with "fruitless efforts" to convince Lebanese authorities to hand over evidence they need to mount an effective defense for Merhi.

Four other members of Hezbollah, all of whom are on the loose, were tied to the Hariri plot last year. Hariri's assassination was followed by Lebanon's Cedar Revolution, which broke Syria's grip over the country.

Syria's civil war has threatened to ensnare Lebanon. The Daily Star said skirmishes between pro- and anti-Syrian factions along the shared border were nearly a daily occurrence.

Security officials told the newspaper on condition of anonymity a manhunt was under way for five suspects tied to a twin bombing in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli in August. At least 47 people were killed in the attack, which security officials said was likely tied to Syrian intelligence agencies.

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