PARIS, (AFP) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Friday said a UN-backed tribunal probing the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri would be futile if its ruling was tainted by political interference.
“If the decision of the tribunal is based on evidence, everybody will accept its conclusions, not only Syria but also Lebanon,” Assad said in an interview with French broadcaster TF1 at the end of a two-day visit to France.
“If there is a decision based on a simple suspicion or political interference, then at that moment nobody will take the tribunal’s conclusions seriously,” Assad said, according to the broadcaster’s translation of his remarks in Arabic.
Pro-Saudi billionaire Hariri was assassinated in 2005 in a massive car bombing in Beirut that also killed another 22 people, and a tribunal tasked with finding who was responsible has said it will issue indictments “very soon.”
Media reports indicated that the tribunal will indict members of the powerful Shiite group, Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, in connection with the murder.
Hezbollah, which fought a devastating 2006 war with Israel, has warned any such accusation would have grave repercussions in Lebanon and says the probe is an Israeli-American plot