Posted on | January 19, 2011 | No Comments
On February 14, 2005, a bomb went off in Beirut, killing 23 persons including former Premier and businessman Rafic Hariri. Various rumours linked the explosion with Syrian officers and/or the Hezbollah. To shed some light on this mystery, the Lebanese government formally asked the UN to set up an international tribunal, where the prosecution is now the responsibility of Daniel Bellemare.
The suspects (and in all likelihood the Hezbollah trail appears valid) are far from being choirboys. Another wave of assassinations followed on the heel of the original killing. The political influence of these suspects is also considerable, as the Hezbollah party garners 30 to 40% of votes in Lebanon. This party actually brought down the coalition government earlier this month because of its very support of the international tribunal.
The Near East being what it is, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria also openly tried to derail the investigation, at the same time rejecting the blame on Israel. Furthermore, some of the witnesses or agents involved in this case have themselves a murky past, for example Russian businessman Viktor Bout, currently imprisoned in the USA for arming terrorist groups.
An article by Yves Boisvert, in La Presse mentioned the important security apparel surrounding the prosecutor. It revealed that the former two prosecutors also resigned because of direct threats to their lives. The head of the Lebanese Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, threw more oil on this fire last November, stating that the arrest of a party member would lead to immediate retaliation. Daniel Bellemare was unfazed: he submitted the indictment for the pre-trial last Monday. This document will remain confidential until it is approved by the tribunal.
I tip my hat today to Mr Bellemare and to his exemplary devotion. The word “courage” could not find a better definition.