Victim's daughter testifies at Hariri assassination trial

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In this March 2, 2005 file photo, Lama Ghalayini, left, daughter of Addul-Hameed Mohammed Ghalaini, accompanied by an unidentified relative, cries after Civil Defense members discovered in Beirut, Lebanon, the body of her father, who was killed in the Feb. 14 explosion that left former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 16 other people dead. (AP Photo, File)
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This file photo taken on February 14, 2005 shows a general view of the site of an explosion in Beirut, in which Lebanon's former prime minister Rafiq Hariri was killed. ( AFP / Anwar Amro)
Updated 28 August 2017
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Victim's daughter testifies at Hariri assassination trial

LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands: The daughter of a bystander who lost his life in the massive car bomb that killed former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri spoke Monday of her family’s harrowing search to find her father’s body.
Lama Ghalayini, 39, is the first victim to testify before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a UN-backed tribunal set up to prosecute those who murdered Hariri and 21 others in the huge February 14, 2005 suicide car bombing on Beirut’s busy seafront.
“In the beginning we always had hope that we would find something,” Ghalayini told judges, speaking via video link from the Lebanese capital.
Her voice at times trembling with emotion, Ghalayini described how her father Abdel-Hamid spoke to her the day before going for a walk in the area near the Beirut waterfront.
He was reported missing after news of the suicide bombing — blamed on five suspected members of the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah, became known.
“We were completely lost, we were in a state of distress and we needed to know exactly what the situation was,” Ghalayini told a five-judge bench.
Looking for their relatives, the family was confronted with the scene of carnage at the blast site.
Ghalayini said they received no help from the authorities in their quest to find her father, a businessman and an amateur pilot.
At the scene “I found body parts. There were also pieces of metal and stones. It was complete chaos,” said Ghalayini.
The family was so desperate that they even hired their own sniffer dogs but to no avail.
Ghalayini’s body was eventually discovered some 17 days after the blast, buried beneath the rubble.
Monday’s hearing marks the first time victims were allowed to speak in the long-running trial which started in 2014 against the five suspects indicted by the court, based just outside The Hague.
However, the STL has quashed the case against one of the accused, Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine, who is believed to have died in fighting in Syria in May last year.
Four others, Salim Ayyash, Hussein Oneissi, Assad Sabra and Hassan Habib Merhi are being tried in absentia.
The STL opened its doors in 2009 and is the only international ad-hoc tribunal with the jurisdiction to try an act of terror.
Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has previously dismissed the tribunal as a US-Israeli plot and vowed none of the defendants will ever be caught.


OIC chief holds talks with ministers during UN General Assembly

Updated 51 min 21 sec ago
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OIC chief holds talks with ministers during UN General Assembly

  • Al-Othaimeen attended the reception ceremony hosted by Donald Trump on Monday
  • The Palestinian issue was also top of the topics that the chief of OIC discussed in his meeting

JEDDAH: Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, met the United Nations’ special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
They discussed the latest developments in the Syrian crisis, and Al-Othaimeen emphasized the need to reach a peaceful solution and address the humanitarian situation.
Al-Othaimeen also met Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations in all fields of cooperation, especially in fighting terrorism and extremism, in addition to discussing the Palestinian issue and supporting UNRWA, the relief agency for Palestinian refugees in the Near East.
The Palestinian issue was also top of the topics that the chief of OIC discussed in his meeting with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, who said his country gave the Palestinian issue special attention, highlighting that there is a large Muslim community in Venezuela and that his country is keen to strengthen relations with the OIC.
Al-Othaimeen met the Iraqi minister of foreign affairs, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Jaafari. They discussed the latest developments in Iraq following the elections and the Basra events, and the importance of holding the Makkah II conference to achieve social reconciliation in Iraq. He also stressed OIC’s support for stability in Iraq.
Moreover, the chief of OIC met the president of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, and stressed the support of his organization for Kosovo until it wins the recognition of OIC member states as an independent state.
Al-Othaimeen attended the reception ceremony hosted by US President Donald Trump on Monday evening for the delegation heads participating in the UN General Assembly.