|Details of the case against the four suspects were published by the STL on Wednesday [STL website]
Lebanese authorities must do more to apprehend four suspects wanted over the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the country's former prime minister, the head of the UN special tribunal investigating the case said.
Antonio Cassese, the president of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, ruled on Thursday that the tribunal's indictment against the four should be publicly advertised before a decision is made on whether to prosecute them in absentia.
Cassese said efforts by Lebanese authorities to arrest the suspects had been "reasonable", but urged them to intensify their hunt for the accused.
"It must be emphasised, however, that the report submitted by Lebanon on 9 August 2011 does not end Lebanon's continuing obligation to assist the Tribunal in searching for, serving, arresting, detaining and transferring the accused," Cassese said.
The report handed into the judge by the Lebanese authorities stated that they had been unsuccessful in efforts to apprehend Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra.
The newly published order detailed the efforts made by the Lebanese authorities in their search. “I conclude that the efforts made by Lebanon, as detailed in the report submitted on 9 August 2011, have been reasonable….The Lebanese authorities have, inter alia, conducted surveillance, interviewed alleged associates, visited localities where the accused were believed to have connections, met with the majors of those localities, and canvassed the neighbourhoods for people with information about the accused,” stated the judge in his report.
Hariri was killed, along with 21 others, on the 14 February 2005 in a massive explosion that rocked Beirut.
Hezbollah dismiss reports
The STL lifted confidentiality restrictions surrounding the case on Wednesday, publishing the full text of the indictment and other details concerning the investigation.
Hassan Nasrallah, secretary general of Hezbollah, dismissed the recently published reports on Wednesday, stating that there was 'no direct evidence' against them.
Nasrallah accused the tribunal of being unscientific, saying: "When you read the text released by the tribunal, you will not find any substantial evidence, not a single piece of direct evidence is included."
"The only thing the tribunal relies on in is the mobile phone records, and even that is circumstantial. It doesn't even prove that any of these alleged suspects made any of these calls or even owned these phones."
The STL, which was established by the United Nations in 2007 to investigate the killing, has had a polarising effect on Lebanese domestic politics, dividing the country into two distinct camps; those who believe the STL is pushing forward a political agenda to bring down Hezbollah, and those who believe that the court is the only institution that will be able to objectively rule on the killing.
Hezbollah and its cabinet allies have dominated Lebanon's coalition government since members of a coalition led by Saad Hariri, Rafiq al-Hariri's son, quit amid controversy over the STL investigation.
All four suspects are members of Hezbollah, although the group has denied any involvement in the assassination, saying that the investigation leading up to the indictments had been politically motivated and ignored the possibility of investigating other suspects.