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Lead suspect in assassination of Lebanon's ex-PM found guilty

August 18, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The lead suspect in the 2005 bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was convicted at a tribunal in the Netherlands on Tuesday.

(CNN)The lead suspect in the 2005 bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was convicted at a tribunal in the Netherlands on Tuesday.

Salim Jamil Ayyash was found guilty of being part of the "red cell phone network" involved in the planning of Hariri's assassination.

The assassination of Hariri was a seismic event in Lebanese history.

Judge David Re said Hariri's killing was "undoubtedly a political act".

But he said there was no evidence that Iran-backed group Hezbollah or the Syrian government had any involvement in the assassination, despite both having possible motives.

"Syria and Hezbollah may have had motives to eliminate Mr. Hariri, and some of his political allies.

However, there was no evidence that Hezbollah leadership had any involvement in Mr. Hariri's murder and there is no direct evidence of Syrian involvement in it," the judge said.

From 1993 to 2005, Hariri paid "millions of US dollars" to Syrian Chief of Intelligence in Lebanon Rustum Ghazaleh, and he had doubled his monthly amount on the day before his assassination, the judge added.

One of the individuals involved in the conspiracy to assassinate Hariri was Mustafa Badreddine who, according to the STL, coordinated surveillance of Hariri and was killed in Syria in 2016.

He was listed as a suspect in the assassination until his death was announced.

Speaking after the verdict was announced, Hariri's son, Saad Hariri -- also a former Prime Minister of Lebanon -- told reporters the result was "satisfying. "

We accept it," Saad Hariri told reporters in The Hague Tuesday.

"For the first time in the history of the many political assassinations that Lebanon has witnessed, the Lebanese know the truth, and for the first time, true justice has prevailed," Saad Hariri added in a statement.

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