Saad Hariri
Saad HaririReuters

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Tuesday he accepted a special tribunal's verdict over the 2005 murder of his father Rafik, who also served as Lebanon’s Prime Minister at the time.

"The court has ruled, and in the name of the family of the late prime minister Rafik Hariri and on behalf of the families of the martyrs and victims, we accept the court's ruling," he said outside the court, as quoted by AFP.

"Today, we have all discovered the truth," added Hariri, who attended the heavily secured court for the judgement.

Earlier on Tuesday, the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) found Salim Ayyash, a member of the Hezbollah organization, guilty over Hariri's murder, but cleared three other suspects after a years-long trial.

Ayyash, 56, was convicted in absentia by the Netherlands-based court over a huge suicide bombing in Beirut that killed Hariri and 21 other people.

Judges said there was not enough evidence to convict Assad Sabra, 43, Hussein Oneissi, 46, and Hassan Habib Merhi, 54, over the blast.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed the conviction of Ayyash, saying that “Ayyash’s conviction helps confirm what the world is increasingly recognizing—that Hezbollah and its members are not defenders of Lebanon as they claim to be but constitute a terrorist organization dedicated to advancing Iran’s malign sectarian agenda.”

Hariri said the verdict demonstrated the court's objectivity and "high credibility," as only one of four suspects was found guilty, when court critics, including Hezbollah, had expected a wholesale guilty sentence from what they have called a "politicized" court.

Even though the court did not link Hezbollah's leadership to the attack, Hariri said he still believed the Iran-backed organization was responsible.

"Today, the party that should make sacrifices is Hezbollah. It is clear that the network responsible is from its ranks," said Hariri, adding that the perpetrators thought they could dodge justice and punishment because of Hezbollah's protection.

"We will not rest until the punishment is carried out," Hariri added. "The Lebanese, as of today, will not accept for their country to be a haven for murderers."

All the Hezbollah members who were accused by the Tribunal are still at large, as Lebanon has said it cannot locate them. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has vowed never to turn them in. The terror group has dismissed the court as a US-Israeli conspiracy.