BEIRUT (AFP) – A UN tribunal probing the 2005 murder of Lebanese ex-premier Rafik Hariri could file charges by the end of the year, the head of the tribunal said in an interview published on Monday.
“Prosecutor (Daniel) Bellemare announced that he is likely to issue an indictment between September and December of this year,” tribunal chief Antonio Cassese told the English-language newspaper The Daily Star.
But Cassese refused to disclose information on the possible culprits.
“I have no idea… The prosecutor does not tell anything to anybody within the tribunal,” he said.
The Hague-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon was set up by a UN Security Council resolution in 2007 to find and try suspects in the assassination of Hariri, a five-time billionaire prime minister who was killed in a massive bombing on the Beirut seafront on February 14, 2005.
In its first annual report published in March, the tribunal announced investigators were getting closer to identifying the suicide bomber who carried out the attack.
A flurry of press reports over the past year said the UN court was readying to accuse Hezbollah operatives in the Hariri murder but the tribunal dismissed them as “mere speculation.”
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has confirmed the team investigating the murder interrogated members of his party but in March said Hezbollah was not in the tribunal’s line of fire.
The Hariri murder has been widely blamed on Syria, a main backer of Hezbollah, although Damascus has roundly denied involvement.
A UN commission of inquiry had said it had evidence to implicate Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services prior to the tribunal’s formation, but there are currently no suspects in custody.