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Lebanon holds funeral for slain ex-minister

Security tightened in Beirut as crowds gather to mourn Mohamad Chatah, whose killing highlights sectarian tensions.

Last updated: 29 Dec 2013 18:27
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Lebanon has held the funeral of Mohamad Chatah, the former finance minister, amid rising tensions over who might have killed him.  

Security was tightened on Sunday around a mosque in the centre of Beirut where prominent figures attended the burial of Chatah, a close aide of ex-prime minister Saad Hariri.

Chatah, a Sunni Muslim who was a vocal critic of Syria and Hezbollah, was killed along with at least seven others in a blast on Friday that shook the capital Beirut.

Politicians aren't waiting for investigations to conclude. They already have their mind set.

Al-Jazeera's Rula Amin

Mourners gathered outside the mosque chanted against the powerful Hezbollah movement, an ally of the Syrian regime, which has been accused of killing Chatah and other critics in recent years.

Chatah was buried at the mausoleum of of Saad's father, late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005.

Chatah's assassination is part of an ongoing wave of violence destabilising the country for years. A civil war waging in neighbouring Syria since 2011 has spilled over into multi-faith Lebanon as different political factions side with opponent parties battling next-door.

Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, said investigators are still collecting clues and evidence from the scene of Friday's attack.

"However, politicians aren't waiting for investigations to conclude. They already have their mind set," our correspondent said.

"Saad Hariri, his Future Movement and March 14 Coalition, who are staunchly anti-Syria, accuse Syria, Hezbollah and Iran [of the assassination of Chatah]."

Chatah's killing occurred three weeks before the long-delayed opening of a trial of five Hezbollah suspects indicted for the 2005 bombing which killed Rafik Hariri, and 21 other people.

After Friday's blast, Saad Hariri said: "as far as we are concerned the suspects ... are those who are fleeing international justice and refusing to represent themselves before the international tribunal," Hariri said.

The trial is due to open in The Hague in January.

Hezbollah, which denies any role in the Hariri assassination, has refused to cooperate with the court, which it says is politically motivated. Preliminary UN investigations implicated Syrian officials.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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