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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June 16, 2015

The Daily Star - Mitsubishi Canter owner testifies at STL, June 16, 2015

Elise Knutsen

With renewed interest, judges at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon heard Monday more testimony related to the sale of the Mitsubishi Canter van believed to have been used as a massive truck bomb in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The man who owned the Mitsubishi Canter van prior to its alleged sale to Hariri’s assassins was questioned by the prosecution Monday, two weeks after his colleague who owns the car lot where the vehicle was displayed and ultimately sold took the stand.

The witness, like his colleague, was given protective measures to conceal his identity from the public. Referred to in court as “the owner,” the witness confirmed that he had indeed purchased a 2002 model Mitsubishi Canter van in the United Arab Emirates at the end of 2004, and had displayed the vehicle at his colleague’s car lot in Tripoli.

“The Mitsubishi Canter van was my property. I’m the one who bought it from the UAE and shipped it to Lebanon,” the witness confirmed.

Throughout the day, the witness was shown a number of documents related to the sale of the vehicle, some scribbled in barely legible chicken-scratch writing. The witness said that sometime possibly in late January 2005, he received a call from his colleague telling him that two individuals were interested in purchasing the vehicle. The colleague called him again a few minutes later to confirm that the buyers had agreed on a sale price of $11,250.

At least one of the men who purchased the van is believed to be a member of the terrorist cell responsible for the blast which killed Hariri and 21 others. The prosecution, however, confirmed in court that “they have no evidence to suggest” that the buyer was one of the five Hezbollah members formally accused of conspiring to kill Hariri.

It is unclear how many individuals the prosecution believes were involved with Hariri’s assassination.

Toward the end of the day, the prosecution showed the witness phone records, an apparent effort to jog his memory about the exact date of the Mitsubishi’s sale. The prosecution is expected to rely heavily on phone records in the coming months to show that the five Hezbollah members had carefully conducted surveillance of Hariri and plotted his death.

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