Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Harir
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-HarirReuters

The UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri has indicted a fifth suspect, the BBC reported on Thursday.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon said the indictment for Hassan Habib Merhi had been secretly issued to Lebanon in August but only now was made public.

Four members of the Hezbollah terror group were already indicted in 2011. Interpol issued a “red notice” for the suspects, but so far none have been arrested.

Hezbollah has denied any responsibility for the attack, and its leader Hassan Nasrallah has dismissed the tribunal as a U.S.-Israeli conspiracy, vowing that none of the suspects will be arrested.

The five are expected to be tried in absentia in January. The trial was due to start last March but was postponed after defense lawyers said that prosecutors had not yet given them all the relevant information to prepare their cases.

Hezbollah denies any role in the killing of Hariri and 21 others in a car bomb attack in Beirut in February 2005.

On Thursday, The Hague-based tribunal said it had confirmed the indictment - and also an arrest warrant - against Hassan Habib Merhi.

It said it had acted because the Lebanese authorities had so far failed to find the suspect.

The tribunal said the move was aimed at finding "alternative means to search for the accused," reported the BBC.

It also urged Beirut to "reinvigorate and intensify their efforts to apprehend" the suspect.

Rafiq Hariri died when a suicide bomber drove a van packed with 2,500 kilograms (5,510 pounds) of explosives into his convoy on the Beirut waterfront.

His assassination plunged Lebanon into a series of political crises, killings and bombings that led to sectarian clashes in 2008, dragging the country to the brink of civil war.