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Tribunal needs help with 5th Hariri suspect

Oct. 21, 2013 at 1:02 PM

LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- A U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 slaying of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri called for public help to find suspect Hassan Habib Merhi.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon confirmed Oct. 6 an arrest warrant was issued in August in secret for 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.

David Baragwanath, president of the tribunal, said Monday an indictment was issued for Merhi for his role in the 2005 assassination.

"The Lebanese authorities have so far been unable to locate Mr. Merhi," he said in a statement Monday. "I have therefore ordered the service of the indictment in alternative modes, which include public advertisement."

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.

Baragwanath said Merhi would be brought to trial in absentia if he was not transferred to the tribunal's authority. A tentative trial date is set for Jan. 13.

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