Four top Hizbullah terrorists have been indicted by the Hague-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon for the murder of former President Rafik al-Hariri, a Lebanese television station said Thursday. The indictments were issued minutes after the conclusion of a meeting between Lebanese officials and members of the Special Tribunal.
The four were named as Assad Sabra, Hassan Issa, Salim Ayache and Moustaf Badredin, all top terrorists in Hizbullah's Lebanese organization. They are currently in hiding, and security officials are on the lookout for them. Security has also been increased at the offices of Lebanon's Prosecutor General, Sayyed Merza, whose office issued the indictments.
Hizbullah had no official comment, but in the past has threatened heavy violence in the event any of its members were indicted for the February 2005 murder of Hariri, who was killed when a large bomb exploded near the car he was riding in during a motorcade near the city's waterfront.
Rafik Hariri's son, Saad, who is a former Prime Minister of Lebanon, praised the indictments, saying that they “offer a new chapter of truth. After long years of patience, waiting and continued national struggle, the indictment in the assassination crime of Martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and his companions was announced today. Today, we witness together a distinctive historic moment in the political, judicial, security and moral life of Lebanon.” He called for a swift arrest and trial, and urged the government to continue cooperating with the tribunal, “and not to evade pursuing the accused and handing them over to justice, which is a guarantee of democracy and stability.”
Meanwhile, Samir Geagea, who was an ally of Hariri's and represents many of the country's Christians, called for calm. “We need to look at the accused as a person rather than link them with their party, sect, or country that he belongs to. I ask leaders… to act wisely, calmly and quietly away from any tensions and overreactions and merely follow the developments of the tribunal.”
Lebanon's government will issue an official statement on the indictments Friday, a government source said.
Syrian strongman Bashar Assad has warned against blaming Hizbullah for the assassination of Hariri.