Hariri indictment says phones link suspects to killing

BEIRUT, (Reuters) – Four Hezbollah suspects in the  killing of Rafik al-Hariri were linked to the attack largely by  circumstantial evidence gleaned from phone records, according to  an indictment published yesterday after a six-year  investigation which polarised Lebanon.

The Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah — which is backed by  Iran and Syria — has denied any role in the 2005 bombing which  killed Hariri, a billionaire Sunni Muslim politician, and 21  other people on the Beirut seafront.

Sealed arrest warrants for the men were issued in June by a  U.N.-backed tribunal, setting the stage for the case to go to  trial, but none of the four has been detained by Lebanese  authorities and Hezbollah says they will never be arrested.

“The four accused participated in a conspiracy with others  aimed at committing a terrorist act to assassinate Rafik  Hariri,” said the 47-page indictment released by the  Netherlands-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Hariri’s killing plunged Lebanon into a series of political  crises and assassinations that led to clashes in May 2008, and  there were fears that sectarian tensions would revive in a  country still scarred by its 1975-1990 civil war.

Hezbollah, both a political movement and guerrilla army,  toppled the government of Hariri’s son, Saad al-Hariri, in  January after he resisted calls to renounce the tribunal.

Hariri called on Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to take a  “historic stance” and respond to the publication of the  indictment by announcing full cooperation with the tribunal so  that the suspects could be extradited and face trial.

He also warned the Hezbollah-backed government of Prime  Minister Najib Mikati that it had a responsibility to find and  arrest the suspects.

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