Wednesday Sep 03, 201407:03 AM GMT
Turkey defends Hezbollah against STL
Mon Nov 29, 2010 1:28PM
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey's prime minister says the Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah is not behind the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafiq Hariri.


"No one can imagine that Hezbollah is linked to the assassination of Rafiq Hariri," Lebanese daily al-Safir quoted Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying on Monday.

His remarks come as the US-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is tasked with investigating the murder, is reportedly set to issue an indictment against Hezbollah members.

The STL was set up after a bombing killed Hariri and more than 20 other people in the Lebanese capital, Beirut in February 2005.

The court is expected to announce its findings by the end of the year.

"Hezbollah says it is Lebanon's spirit of resistance, and even uses the term 'al-Shahid (martyr) al-Hariri.' No one can imagine it is linked to this thing," Erdogan said.

Last week, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri also rejected the involvement of Hezbollah in the murder of his father.

On Sunday, Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah accused the STL of disregard for Israel's role in the murder, saying the tribunal is using faulty procedures, issuing convictions in absentia and hiding witness identities.

"In international tribunals, we never have sentences made in absentia. Indictments are made, but they never hold a trial until the accused comes [and is] present in front of the judge," Nasrallah said.

Withholding the identity of the witnesses, Nasrallah said, means "those who are accused can never question the witness. They can never ask the witness 'where did you see me? What are accusing me [of]? Based upon what?'"

In July, Nasrallah said that he had been informed by Hariri that STL "will accuse some undisciplined [Hezbollah] members."

Nasrallah has rejected the allegation, warning that the plot was part of "a dangerous project that is targeting the resistance."

AGB/AKM/MMN
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