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Inside Story
Hariri tribunal begins
What impact will the trial have on Lebanon's fragile political stage?
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2009 09:09 GMT

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An international tribunal on the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, opened in The Hague today.
 
Daniel Bellemare, the chief prosecutor of the UN court, has said that he will ask Lebanon to hand over four army generals being held in custody in connection with the case.

The four men, who include a former head of Lebanese state security, have been in custody for over three years since.

Al-Hariri was killed, along with 22 others, when a truck bomb targeted his motorcade in downtown Beirut on February 14, 2005.

The incident sparked accusations that Syria was behind the attack and led to a series of reprisal killings and the eventual withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after 29 years in the politically troubled country. 

Though UN investigators have yet to name any Syrian suspects, many prominent Lebanese politicians, including Saad al-Hariri, Rafiq al-Hariri's son, have accused Syria of being behind the bombing, a claim Damascus strongly denies.

The Special Tribunal's budget will be $35m for its first year, $45m for the second and $40m for the third, with 51 per cent coming from international donors and the other 49 per cent from Lebanon.

But will the tribunal be able to function free from external political influences? 
How will the likely political and legal ramifications of the trial affect Lebanon's fragile political stage? If prosecutions are made, what will it mean for the future of Lebanese-Syrian relations?
 
Inside Story
presenter Kamal Santamaria is joined by Akram Zouri, the lawyer representing Jamil al-Sayyad, the detained former general security chief, Nidal Jurdi, an international criminal law expert, and Damir al-Taqi, the director of the Orient Centre for International Studies.

This episode of Inside Story aired from Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 1730GMT with repeats at 2230GMT, and 430GMT and 830GMT on Monday.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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