Lebanon — STL Sentences Hezbollah Member to Life for Hariri Assassination

  • The STL convicted Salim Jamil Ayyash, a 57-year-old Lebanese citizen, and sentenced him to life in prison.
  • Three other people were acquitted in absentia, but Ayyash was found guilty.
  • The ruling is unlikely to be carried out, as it is not possible for Hezbollah to extradite him to the judiciary.

The United Nations’ Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in The Hague has sentenced one of the main defendants in the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri to life in prison. The accused, who is a member of Hezbollah in Lebanon, was involved in plotting to assassinate Rafik Hariri in 2005.

A billboard depicting Lebanon PM Rafik Hariri, who was killed in bombing in 2005, pictured in Sidon, Lebanon.

Some fifteen years after the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the STL convicted Salim Jamil Ayyash, a 57-year-old Lebanese citizen, and sentenced him to life in prison.

“Mr. Ayyash participated in an act of terrorism that caused mass murder. His role … was vital to the success of the attack,” Presiding Judge David Re said.

“The trial chamber is satisfied that it should impose the maximum sentence for each of the five crimes of life imprisonment, to be served concurrently.”

“I’m calling on the Secretary-General of the United Nations to intervene to restore judicial probity and integrity at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon,” Re added.

Ayyash is affiliated with the Lebanese Hezbollah, although the party says it was not a member of or separated from the politico-military movement. A total of 22 people were killed in the terrorist act against Rafik Hariri.

According to the court, “this was a blow to the government in Lebanon.” According to the court, there is no reason to reduce the maximum punishment for indulgence. He was involved in a horrific terrorist operation that led to a massacre, they said.

“In my view, a strong inference is available from the above as to who has been shielding him from justice for all of these years,” Re said, in a reference to the Hezbollah statements.

Rafic Hariri was a Lebanese business tycoon and the Prime Minister of Lebanon from 1992 to 1998 and again from 2000 until his resignation on 20 October 2004. Hariri was assassinated on 14 February 2005 by a suicide truck bomb in Beirut.

The indictment against Ayyash included five charges, each of which was punishable by life imprisonment. The special court in The Hague tried the four main defendants in absentia. In August, three people were acquitted, but Ayyash was found guilty.

The STL has once again ruled in favor of indulgence, but the ruling is unlikely to be carried out, as it is not possible for Hezbollah to extradite him to the judiciary.

“Mr. Ayyash’s crimes are extremely grave; he had a central role in the attack,” Judge Janet Nosworthy said.

“Lebanon is a parliamentary democracy; its politicians and leaders should be removed from office at the ballot box rather than by the bullet or a bomb,” she said, as reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

On February 14, 2005, a suicide bomber assassinated Rafik Hariri in Beirut. Apart from the influential prime minister, 21 people were killed and 226 were injured.

Rafik Hariri wanted to run again. He declared his most important political mission was to end Syria’s influence in Lebanon, and experts believe that this was the reason for his assassination. The Islamic Republic of Iran is considered the most important supporter of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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