STL defense dismisses prosecution's "circumstantial" evidence

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A statue of Lebanon's late premier Rafiq Hariri stands in central Beirut in this picture taken on January 16, 2014. (Photo: AFP - Anwar Amro).

Published Friday, January 17, 2014

The defense counsel of four Hezbollah members accused of planning the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri dismissed evidence presented by the prosecution over Thursday and Friday as unverifiable "observations."

Prosecutors offered nothing new during their opening arguments, the defense team said at a press conference Friday evening after the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) went to recess.

"There is nothing new in the presentation the prosecutor presented at the beginning of the trial," Antoine Korkmaz, one of the defense lawyers for the suspects being tried in absentia, told reporters.

"We have not heard anything about the content of the conversations that the prosecutor claims were made between the defendants," he added.

"The burden of proof lies with the prosecution," and so far it has only provided circumstantial evidence that does not prove the suspects were behind the bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others on February 14, 2005.

Nor did the prosecutor explain the motive behind the killing of Rafik Hariri, he added, saying that the billionaire maintained good relations with Hezbollah before his assassination.

"The evidence presented by the prosecutor is only theoretical," defense lawyer Yasser Hassan added. "We have not seen anything new, and there is no court that could issue convictions on the basis of speculation."

The defense will present their counter arguments when The Hague-based court resumes on Monday.



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