Prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon [official website; JURIST news archive] Daniel Bellemare filed a sealed indictment [statement, PDF; press release] with the tribunal's pretrial judge Monday charging an unknown number of people for their roles in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive]. The names of those indicted will be kept confidential [Lebanon Daily Star report] until the pretrial judge reviews and approves the indictment, but many believe that the indictment names members of Hezbollah [CFR backgrounder]. The review process could take close to three months. Bellemore noted the significance of the indictment, stating:
This is an important moment for the People of Lebanon. It marks the launch of the judicial phase of the Tribunal's work. For the first time, a legal case has been launched by an international Tribunal against those responsible for a political assassination in Lebanon. This step has been taken at the request and on behalf of the People of Lebanon and in fulfillment of a mandate from the United Nations Security Council. This is also an important moment for the international community - and for those who believe in international justice.Last week, Hezbollah dissolved the Lebanese government [NYT report] when Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of the slain former prime minister, refused to publicly reject the STL. Hezbollah supporters in Beirut publicly protested the indictment[Jerusalem Post report] Tuesday.
In August, Hezbollah submitted evidence to the STL [JURIST report] linking Israel with the bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others. The STL asked for the evidence a week earlier after Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah [BBC profile] claimed to have proof that Israel was behind the bombing. Last February, the head of the STL reassured [JURIST report] the Lebanese public that the investigation is on track. When asked about the progress of the investigation into the death of Hariri, the head of the STL "underlined the fact that the Tribunal already has in place all the legal and administrative instruments necessary for its work, and is fully operational so that justice may be dispensed with complete independence and impartiality in accordance with the highest international standards." The STL was established in 2005 at the request of the Lebanese government to try those alleged to be connected to the bombing in which Hariri was killed by explosions detonated near his motorcade in Beirut.