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 31, 2010

March 31, 2010 - Daily Star - STL interrogations of Hizbullah spurs fears of clashes

By Patrick Galey

BEIRUT: The row brewing over the United Nations Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) intensified on Tuesday, as Hizbullah warned against involving the party in investigations. Ahead of Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s anticipated statement on Wednesday, party sources told Al-Akhbar newspaper that the speech will advise prosecutors to follow alternative lines of inquiry. “The real message that Sayyed Nasrallah wants to send to everyone in Lebanon and the world is that involvement in the issue of accusation against the party will ultimately lead to a political May 7,” sources were quoted as saying in reference to the clashes between Hizbullah and pro-government gunmen which descended on west Beirut and areas of the Chouf in May 2008. Nasrallah is also expected to state that any attempt to link Hizbullah with the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri will be dealt with as Israeli fabrications, the sources added. “All officials involved with the international investigation into Hariri’s assassination locally, regionally and internationally” will be informed of Hizbullah’s stance toward the STL, the paper reported. MP Alain Aoun, a member of the Change and Reform bloc, sought to temper the rhetoric of the sources quoted by Al-Akhbar in an interview with Future News. Aoun rejected the idea that Nasrallah was against the work of the STL. “However, Nasrallah is against the politicization of the court,” Aoun said, adding that the tribunal was right in not leaking to the press information that may prejudice the investigation. Tawheed Movement head Wi’am Wahhab reiterated his criticism of the UN tribunal, suggesting Tuesday that the United States set political targets for STL investigators. In an interview published by Kuwaiti daily Al-Anbaa, Wahhab said “[The tribunal] is politicized and serves US interests.” He suggested that the questioning of three Hizbullah members by STL prosecutors was the result of pressure exerted from Washington. “Lebanon faces today a new lie that accuses Hizbullah cadres of being implicated in Hariri’s assassination,” Wahhab said. The former environment minister had sparked controversy by suggesting that STL investigators were seeking to question as many as 20 Hizbullah members and would even seek to connect Imad Mughniyeh, the party’s military commander – killed in a Damascus bomb in 2008 – with the death of five-time premier Hariri. Wahhab continued his onslaught against the STL, suggesting that the court had “lied earlier in the case of the four generals,” referring to Lebanese security chiefs who were released by STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare in March 2009 after being held without charge for four years. “The STL is trying to justify its work through issuing periodic reports in order to maintain its budget, especially after it announced the innocence of the four generals,” he was quoted as saying. The STL was set up to find and try the perpetrators of billionaire Hariri’s assassination. He was killed along with 22 others when his motorcade was struck by a massive car bomb in Beirut on February 14, 2005. Blame for the killing has been suggested by many to lie with Syria but Damascus has repeatedly denied any involvement in the crime. The tribunal has been plagued by allegations of politicization since its inception last year. The Office of the Prosecutor was forced last week to issue a statement appealing for an end to speculation on issues relating to investigations, labeling rumors on suspects “unhelpful.” Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir took the opportunity in an interview with the pan-Arab daily Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat to defend the work of the STL. “It is necessary that the STL conclude its work no matter what the price is,” he was quoted as saying. “The STL is supposed to be just and nothing has been proved to us as otherwise. “Justice is justice and [the STL’s] role is to punish criminals. If this tribunal is just it should do its work,” he added.

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