The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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March 29, 2010

March 29, 2010 - Daily Star - Hizbullah chief vows to address allegations of STL interrogation

Wahhab warns against politicization of Special Tribunal
By Patrick Galey

BEIRUT: Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah vowed to respond to allegations that Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) prosecutors had begun questioning Hizbullah members about involvement in the killing of former Premier Rafik Hariri.

“I will most probably speak in the few coming days about the reports and circulations concerning the international investigation and questioning of Hizbullah members as well as the path of the investigations and all things related to this issue,” Nasrallah was quoted as saying by the Al-Manar news website.

“I will say what I think is appropriate to say at this stage so that people understand the issue,” Nasrallah added.

It is expected that Nasrallah will give a statement to Al-Manar television on Wednesday.

Also over the weekend,Tawheed Movement leader Wi’am Wahhab attacked on Sunday the United Nations’ probe into Hariri’s assassination, warning that the tribunal was at risk of becoming politicized.

Following a meeting with Spanish Ambassador to Lebanon Juan Carlos Gafo at his residence in Jahlieh, Wahhab expressed his skepticism over the motives of the STL.

“We don’t trust the STL or its work and we have expressed that over the years,” he said.

“Ever since the four former security chiefs were released, there has been a necessity for the STL not to be politicized because it will lead to the destruction of Lebanon,” he added in reference to the Lebanese intelligence officers who were held for four years before their release under prosecutor’s orders when the STL began operations in March 2009.

Wahhab suggested last week that the tribunal was seeking to speak with 20 party members and even suggested investigations were exploring the possibility that former Hizbullah military commander Imad Mughniyeh – himself killed in Damascus in 2008 – was involved in the assassination.

According to UN Security Council Resolution 1757, the STL can compel Beirut to hand over Lebanese citizens for questioning by prosecutors, although media reports have suggested that Hizbullah’s cooperation with investigators would be unlikely.

The spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare was forced to release a statement as rumors swirled, condemning media hearsay as “unhelpful.”

“Anything reported by persons other than the Prosecutor or his Official Spokesperson are mere speculation and should be treated as such,” Bellemare’s press office statement said.

Wahhab said on Sunday he and Gafo had discussed several elements of the STL’s inquiry, “including the latest leaks.”

“We stress to the ambassador that Spain and other European states play a role in opposing the politicization of the STL and its decision,” he said. “This will turn Lebanon, UNIFIL and maybe other UN institutions into a mailbox that the US can use to put pressure on Hizbullah and Iran after it has failed in pressuring Syria in the last couple of years.

“Therefore, this matter ought to be solved before it is too late and it is the duty of the international community to exert pressure so that the STL is not turned into a US tool.”

The STL has been plagued by accusations of politicization since its inception last year, with many commentators suggesting its progress has been stymied by a series of high-profile resignations by lawyers involved in the case.

It is tasked with finding the killers of Hariri, who was assassinated by a massive car bomb that struck his motorcade in Downtown Beirut on February 14, 2005.

Last week, STL investigators began filming a 3-D scene from the area in which Hariri was slain. Allegations of responsibility have been laid at Syria’s door but Damascus has repeatedly denied involvement.

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