Thursday, April 30, 2009

International Hariri tribunal self-destructs

From DEBKAfile, April 29, 2009:

... by setting the key witnesses, four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals, free, the pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen Wednesday, April 29, effectively scrapped the international tribunal's mission to pursue the murderers of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

The four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals, now under "under strict security for their own safety," were held in custody for four years on suspicion of complicity in the 2005 Hariri murder in close alignment with Syrian military intelligence, which then ruled Beirut, and with figures close to Syrian president Bashar Assad.

Their release "for lack of sufficient evidence", according to Fransen, rewarded Assad for the extraordinary efforts he made to quash the international legal proceedings for fear of compromising his close circle in one of the most outrageous political crimes in recent Middle East history.

The four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals are Jamil Sayyed, Ali Hajj, Raymond Azar and Mustafa Hamdan who respectively headed the General Security Department, the Internal Security Forces, Military Intelligence and the Presidential Guards Brigade.

The tribunal was also briefed to prosecute a series of high-profile political assassinations in Lebanon after the Hariri murder, for which Damascus was also blamed.

Our counter-terror sources note that the chance of ever bringing any of these assassins to justice has just been reduced to zero by the international judge's action. He has cut the main sources of evidence leading to the culprits in Damascus.

A major barrier to Bashar Assad's international rehabilitation has been removed.
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