The End Of The Hariri Trial

Above photo: Emergency personnel inspecting the scene of the Hariri bombing in 2005. more than two tons of explosives shredded the armor-plated car of Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister of Lebanon, in a suicide bombing that killing him and 21 others. More than 200 people were injured in the 2005 attack. By Wael Hamzeh of EPA.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which was set up to investigate the 2005 assassination of billionaire and former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafik Hariri, is giving its final judgment:

Judges at a U.N.-backed tribunal said Tuesday there was no evidence the leadership of the Hezbollah militant group and Syria were involved in the 2005 suicide truck bomb assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The trial centered on the alleged roles of four Hezbollah members in the suicide truck bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others and wounded 226 people. Prosecutors based their case largely on data from mobile phones allegedly used by the plotters to plan and execute the bombing.Without the phone data there would be no case against the four suspects, [Presiding Judge David] Re said, as he began explaining the complex investigation into the telecom networks prosecutors say the suspects used.

Re said that the telecom evidence in the case was “almost entirely circumstantial.”

Based on that ‘almost entirely circumstantial’ evidence the tribunal found that only one of the accused, Salim Jamil Ayyash, is guilty of the charges. That person, an alleged Hizbullah member, has vanished years ago.

The reading of the 150 pages summary of the 2.600 pages long judgment is still ongoing. Independent reporter Bel Trew is live-tweeting the proceedings.

The outcome is a big nothing burger that will leave the many enemies of Hizbullah unsatisfied. But it also saves Lebanon from more strife.

Nine years ago we predicted that this was likely to be the result of the case. Here is the original piece published on June 30 2011:

The Hariri Indictment

2005: Investigator Says Syria Was Behind Lebanon Assassination

The German prosecutor conducting the United Nations investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon said today that fresh evidence reinforced his earlier judgment that Syria’s intelligence services were behind the killing and that Syrian officials were obstructing his investigation.

2009: Four Lebanese generals ‘to be handed to UN for Rafik Hariri tribunal’

Four army generals held in Lebanon over the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri could be handed over within weeks to the special tribunal in The Hague that will put them on trial, the court registrar said today.

2011: UN court indicts four Hezbollah members over Hariri car bomb

Lebanon’s senior prosecutor has received criminal indictments for four members of the Shia militant group Hezbollah, who are accused of assassinating the country’s former prime minister Rafiq Hariri in a car bomb attack six years ago.

2015: …

Obviously they can’t make up their mind on who killed Hariri – Syria, some Lebanese generals, Hizbullah or whoever it will be convenient to indict during the next decade. The purpose of the UN kangaroo (or potato) court is not to find the Hariri murder or to do justice. It is a political instrument in the hands of the USraeli-Saudi alliance.

But let’s step back and take today’s indictment of Hizbullah members as an opportunity to again look at the person of Rafik Hariri. He was not the “good guy” the “western” media constructed but a neoliberal robber baron who defrauded the people of Lebanon.

From the 2005 BBC economic obituary of Hariri:

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri used his business empire to rebuild Beirut after years of civil war.To do it, he deployed his own construction industry fortune, and a huge network of rich and powerful friends.

He was his country’s richest man, reckoned to be worth roughly $4bn (£2.1bn). But it is his corporate brain-child, Solidere, that best illustrates his central role in regenerating Lebanon’s economy.

Solidere bought up large chunks of central Beirut and turned the business district from a bullet-marked, rubble-strewn mess into a glitzy banking and tourist centre. Mr Hariri was its most influential shareholder.

As prime minister, Mr Hariri’s public works and rebuilding programmes ran up debts that threatened to overwhelm the public finances.

The budget deficit climbed to 17% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2002, and debt repayments were costing the government 80% of revenue.

[F]or many Lebanese, the redevelopment of central Beirut meant dispossession of homes or property without adequate compensation, and the enrichment of Mr Hariri.

Mr Hariri’s vision for wealth creation of Lebanon was definitely of the trickle-down variety. In power, he cut social services, public sector wages and company taxes.

While Hariri ruled a law was implemented that essentially dispossessed all the property owners in central Beirut. Their land was put into Solidere, a joint stock company under Hariri’s control. Then huge amounts of public money were spent to build the new central Beirut owned by Hariri’s Solidere. Additionally to that fraud all the rebuilding was done at much too high costs by Hariri’s construction companies. It was a huge racket that made Hariri immensely rich and the Lebanese state very poor.

To indict Hariri and to get the stolen money back to the people of Lebanon and the defrauded property owners of central Beirut would be a worthy court case.

When Hariri got killed there were millions of Lebanese who had good reasons to wish the guy to be dead. Besides them many political entities, including Israel and the U.S., had plausible motives to kill Hariri if only to stick the murder to someone else. The current court case against Hizbullah is nonsense. Hariri’s real murderers will likely never be found.