|Arrest warrants were issued by the tribunal investigating the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri [Reuters]
The UN-backed Lebanon tribunal has released the names, photographs and details of four men wanted in connection with the 2005 assassination of Rafik al-Hariri, a former prime minister.
Daniel Fransen, the pre-trial judge of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, lifted confidentiality on the full names, aliases, biographical information, photographs and charges on Friday against individuals named in the indictments and four arrest warrants it issued for Lebanon last month.
The identities were withheld until the Lebanese authorities were informed but Daniel Bellemare, the prosecutor, persuaded the court that making details public would increase the prospects for the suspects arrest, despite the risks.
"The prosecutor submits that making the requested information available in public fora may increase the likelihood of apprehending the accused in the event that any of them are noticed by the public," the tribunal said in a statement.
The suspects are believed to be members of Hezbollah, a Shia group.
The brief biographies of the suspects did not mention their affiliation with Hezbollah, which has vowed never to turn over any of its members.
Hezbollah has denied any role in the killing of Hariri. The group accuses the tribunal of being a tool of the United States and Israel.
The tribunal identified Mustafa Amine Badreddine, who is believed to have been Hezbollah's deputy military commander and also formerly linked to the 1983 truck bombings at the US and French embassies in Kuwait, as one of the suspects.
Badreddine, 50, is the brother-in-law of slain Hezbollah commander Imad Moughniyeh, considered one of the world's most wanted terrorists when he was killed by a mysterious car bomb in Syria in 2008.
The tribunal also named Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra, all of whom Hezbollah has claimed as members.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, said earlier this month that he would never arrest members of his group, dismissing the accusations as unfounded and a failed attempt to sow strife and bring down Lebanon's new Hezbollah-backed government.
"They cannot find them or arrest them in 30 days or 60 days, or in a year, two years, 30 years or 300 years," Nasrallah has said.
Najib Mikati, the Lebanese prime minister who was Hezbollah's pick for the post, issued a vague promise earlier this month that Lebanon would respect international resolutions as long as they did not threaten domestic security.