Hizballah intends to ensure they serve their sentences in absentia as well, and there appears to be no political will in Lebanon to demand otherwise. One of those indicted has boasted that authorities know where he lives, but cannot arrest him. The track record so far calls into question whether “all reasonable steps” were really taken to bring them into custody.
“Hariri assassination suspects to be tried in absentia,” from CNN, February 2:
(CNN) — The special court investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri announced Wednesday it will try the four accused killers in absentia.
The trial chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, headquartered in the Netherlands near The Hague, said it concluded that “all reasonable steps have been taken to secure the appearance of the accused and to notify them of the charges against them.”
The efforts included multiple attempts by Lebanese authorities to find the four men at homes and workplaces, the chamber said. It also noted that the identities of the four men and their indictments received “massive publicity” in Lebanon, making it clear the men were being sought.
The chamber did not announce a date for the trial, but it will be at least four months away.
The United Nations-backed tribunal indicted the four men in June 2011 and made their identities public in July.
Hariri was killed in February 2005 when a bomb struck his motorcade in Beirut. The blast ripped apart his armored car and destroyed the motorcade, killing 21 other people and wounding 231.
All four suspects are charged with conspiracy aimed at committing a terrorist act.
The indictment says the alleged ringleader was Mustafa Amine Badreddine, while another man, Salim Jamil Ayyash, allegedly headed the “assassination team,” responsible for physically carrying out the attack.
They are also charged with committing a terrorist act by means of an explosive device; two counts of intentional homicide with premeditation by using explosives; and attempted intentional homicide with premeditation by using explosives.
Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra were responsible for preparing a false claim of responsibility, the indictment says. They are charged with being accomplices to the same four counts.
Investigators used mobile phone data to place Ayyash and other members of the assassination team near locations where Hariri was in the days prior to his death, the indictment says. Similar data placed the men near points along the route of Hariri’s convoy on the day of the bombing…