The indictments against four Hezbollah members accused of the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri contain no clear evidence, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Wednesday, according to an Associated Press report.
Nasrallah's comments came after the U.N. tribunal investigating Hariri's assassination officially published its indictments on Wednesday. The indictments name the accused as Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra.
“The text we now have in our hands is based on analysis and not clear evidence,” AP quoted Nasrallah as saying in a speech Wednesday. “We should not say that those who were indicted have been charged, but rather unjustly treated.”
Rafik Hariri was killed on Feb. 14, 2005, a few months after resigning from the prime minister’s position, when a suicide bomber and a truck bomb both exploded near his convoy in Beirut. Some 20 others were also killed.
According to the indictments, the four Hezbollah members accused of Hariri's murder were recruited by Imad Mughniyeh, the apparent head of the group's intelligence and security unit who was himself assassinated in 2008, and his deputy. Daniel Bellemare, the special prosecutor appointed by the international tribunal to investigate the assassination, praised the court's decision to formally publish the indictments, saying, “The publication of the indictments will finally enable the public and the victims to know all the facts of the case.”
Saad Hariri, son of the slain Lebanese prime minister who until recently also served as prime minister, welcomed the decision to publish the names of the wanted men and the details of the formal accusations against them.
Responding to Hezbollah's refusal to accept the charges or hand over its members, Hariri said, “Lebanon will pay the price because of Hezbollah's intransigence and its unwillingness to cooperate with the international community.”
Hariri also attacked claims made by Hezbollah, and backed by Iran, that the International Criminal Court was “illegitimate, political and without merit.” “This is another attempt by Tehran to prevent the court from exposing truth,” Hariri said.