UN-backed tribunal arrives in Beirut to issue four arrest warrants for Hezbollah officials accused of the assassination of former Lebanon PM.
Former Lebanon PM Hariri: Hezbollah indictments a 'historic moment' -
Saad Hariri lauds UN-backed tribunal for issuing indictments against Hezbollah officials for the 2005 murder of his father, Rafik Hariri.
The UN-backed tribunal probing the 2005 murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has submitted an indictment to Lebanon's prosecutor general, Al -Jazeera and Al Arabiya television reported Thursday.
Representatives of the International Court of Justice in The Hague arrived in Beirut to serve the indictments, which according to Al Arabiya, include four arrest warrants against Hezbollah officials.
Two of the arrest warrants are for a commander of Hezbollah special operations, and for a senior Hezbollah leader. The identity of the other two people is still unknown.
A fifth arrest warrant is due to be served against a suspect who does not hold Lebanese citizenship.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the world's first international court with jurisdiction over the crime of terrorism, was set up to try those accused over the Beirut bombing that killed Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister, and 22 others.
Hezbollah, which strongly denied any role in the 2005 assassination, and its allies resigned from Hariri's unity government in January, just days before the tribunal prosecutor filed the still-secret indictments to a pre-trial judge.
The indictments have been twice amended while the pre-trial judge assessed whether there was enough evidence to proceed with a trial.
Hezbollah and its allies now have a majority in the new government of Najib Mikati, formed two weeks ago after months of political wrangling. Mikati's cabinet met on Thursday to agree a policy statement, including its stance towards the tribunal.
Hezbollah has said the international court is a tool of the United States and Israel and wants Lebanon to halt all cooperation with it, including withdrawing Lebanese judges and ending its share of funding for the court.
Mikati has said he wants the government to honor Lebanon's international commitments unless a national consensus emerges to reverse that position - which is unlikely given Saad Hariri's continued strong support for the tribunal.
Rafik Hariri was killed by a huge truck bomb. International condemnation of the attack forced neighboring Syria to end a 29-year military presence in Lebanon.
Six months after the Feb. 14, 2005, assassination, four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals were arrested at the request of the UN investigator. A report delivered to the UN Security Council implicated high-ranking Syrian and Lebanese officials in the murder.
Former Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of Rafik Hariri, lauded the indictments handed to Hezbollah officials by the UN-backed tribunal probing Hariri's 2005 assassination, calling it a "historic moment."
The handover of the indictments to Lebanese prosecutor general Saeed Mirza was made during a meeting with three judges from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which has given Lebanon 30 days to respond.
Saad Hariri issued a statement shortly after the indictment was handed to Mirza warning the new Hezbollah-led cabinet that it must abide by Lebanon's commitments toward the international tribunal.
"The cabinet should implement Lebanon's commitments toward the international tribunal and has no excuse in escaping its responsibilities," Hariri, who is currently living in Paris, said.
Hariri also said that "after many years of patience, of struggle... today, we witness a historic moment in Lebanese politics, justice and security.
"We are not seeking revenge, rather we put our faith in God," he added.
Shortly after the news came out that the indictments were released, many Lebanese security forces were deployed in Beirut and carried out patrols in a precautionary move to guard against any violence.
On hearing reports of the indictments, Hariri supporters fired shots into the air in the mainly Sunni Muslim neighborhood of Tarek Jadideh.
"We are happy the truth is finally coming out," one neighborhood resident who asked not to be named, told DPA by phone.
"Since Hariri was martyred we have been asking for the truth behind the assassination and I think we are now starting to see the first list of names," he added.
The tribunal has long been a point of contention between Lebanon's rival political parties.
On January 12, Hezbollah and its allies toppled the Western-backed government of Saad Hariri over his refusal to stop the tribunal in probing his father's murder.
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