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Hezbollah will reject STL indictment

Hezbollah says the resistance movement will “totally reject” the indictment of a US-backed tribunal probing the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

Sheikh Naim Qassem, the deputy secretary general of Hezbollah, criticized the US-sponsored Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), calling it a “conspiratorial tribunal.”

Hezbollah opposed the STL “because it is being used to harm the Resistance,” Naharnet website quoted Qassem as saying on Friday.

He also asked “the international community and our partners in this country to work on terminating the role of this tribunal for the sake of everyone’s protection against the American-Israeli conspiracy.”

“This is a test for our partners in this country: are they willing to take this honorable stance in foiling the conspiracy against Lebanon and the Resistance?”

Qassem vowed that Hezbollah would remain “steadfast” in the face of “the STL’s trap … whatever the considerations or costs may be.”

According to unconfirmed reports, the US-backed STL plans to charge some Hezbollah members in connection with the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, who lost his life in a massive car bomb explosion on February 14, 2005 that also killed 22 other people.

Hezbollah, which has vehemently denied playing any role in the assassination, says the tribunal is an “Israeli-American project” established with the goal of undermining the resistance movement and creating division in the country.

The resistance movement also accuses the US-sponsored tribunal of basing its investigations on testimonies provided by “false witnesses.”

The newly-appointed STL Registrar Herman von Hebel said on Thursday that he expects the court’s prosecutor Daniel Bellemare to send a draft indictment to the pre-trial judge for confirmation very soon.

According to von Hebal, the indictment will be made public only after being confirmed by pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen and that the judge is expected to decide whether to confirm the indictment and issue arrest warrants, either under seal or by naming suspects publicly, in about six to ten weeks.

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