UN tribunal finally opens into assassination of Lebanese leader

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An international tribunal to prosecute suspects in the killing of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri opened yesterday with a moment's silence and a pledge to impartially investigate the politicallycharged case. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Special Court for Lebanon, prosecutor Daniel Bellemare said he will continue his investigations without political interference and will call "as soon as possible" for Lebanese authorities to turn over four pro-Syrian generals who are suspects in the case.

Mr Bellemare said he may issue indictments as a result of his wideranging investigation, but would not say when. Hariri was killed along with 22 others in a sophisticated suicide attack on Valentine's Day 2005, as his convoy drove along Beirut's seafront.

Many in Lebanon believe Syria was behind the assassination, but Damascus denies involvement."I will submit an indictment when I am satisfied, personally and professionally, that I have enough evidence," Mr Bellemare told reporters packed into a gymnasium that will be transformed into a high-security courtroom.

The generals led Lebanon's police, intelligence service and an elite army unit at the time of the assassination.

They are the only suspects in custody, though have not been formally charged.The new court has a wing ready to detain suspects in a Hague jail that already holds the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and former Liberian president Charles Taylor, among other war crimes suspects.

In Lebanon, hundreds of Hariri supporters gathered near his tomb to watch the opening session on giant screens. As prime minister, Hariri - a billionaire businessman - was credited with rebuilding central Beirut after the 1975-90 civil war, and trying to limit Syria's influence

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