Tension mounts in Lebanon as reports emerge the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will indict five Hizbullah members for the 14 February 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in the coming days.
Lebanese judicial authorities will receive a copy of the STL indictment either Monday or Tuesday, a Western source in Paris told the pan-Arab Al-Hayat on Monday.
Meanwhile, London-based Asharq al-Awsat, citing well-informed sources, said five Hizbullah members will be named in the indictment.
Al-Aswat said sources told them the indictment would be submitted to the Lebanese government in the coming two days, but that the inductees names would be kept confidential for a short period during their initial questioning.
Al-Hayat said the confirmation by Western source coincides with an unannounced journey to The Hague by Lebanese judges who are part of the special tribunal’s trial chamber. The remaining judges, both staff and reserve, left Beirut Sunday for the STL headquarters in The Hague, al-Hayat said.
Lebanese officials say the move is a precautionary measure to provide personal protection to the judges ahead of the indictment's release. The sources intimated none of Lebanon’s top government leaders had any official information as to when the indictment would be issued.
The Hariri tribunal followed a tortuous path since its formation shortly after the assassination. In its initial period, it was expected that its main angle of investigation would focus on the Syrians as Hariri was known as a defender of Lebanese sovereignty vis-a-vis the Syrian regime.
Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare's filing of the indictment in January and expansion in March set off political crises in Lebanon, where the Shi'ite group Hezbollah and its allies toppled the government of Hariri's son, Saad Hariri.
The release of the indictments is expected to have serious ramifications in Lebanon and region-wide, even threatening to throw Lebanon into another civil war.
Hizbullah denies its government's delay in formulating a position on the STL stems from not knowing what the tribunal's final conclusion would be.