Hariri tribunal expects delays

Oct. 29, 2013 at 1:14 PM

LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- A tribunal investigating Hezbollah's alleged role in the 2005 slaying of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri said Tuesday it expects trial delays.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon said Monday it transferred the cases against suspected Hezbollah members Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Ainessi and Assad Hassan Sabra to the trial chamber. That marked the start of the trail phase in the case. The suspects will be tried in absentia.

The tribunal said Tuesday it expected opening statements would last two days. A Jan. 13 start date could be delayed, however, because of several outstanding motions before the judges.

In a statement, the tribunal said lawyers for the accused asked for a delay, citing "difficulties getting cooperation from the Lebanese authorities." Others involved in the defense said they were ready for the trial because of "many reasons."

The tribunal said it would spell out its case in three chapters: one dealing with the attack itself, a second focusing on preparations for the attack and a third attributing responsibility to the accused.

Hezbollah has said the assassination of Hariri was part of an Israeli plot meant to discredit the Shiite movement.

Hariri was among 22 people killed in a bombing attack Feb. 14, 2005, in Beirut.

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