Lawyers of Hezbollah suspect in Hariri assassination trial calls for acquittal

Former Lebanese premier Rafic Hariri gestures to supporters from his car in Beirut 03 September 2000. (AFP)
Updated 21 February 2018
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Lawyers of Hezbollah suspect in Hariri assassination trial calls for acquittal

LEIDSCHENDAM: Lawyers for one of four alleged Hezbollah members accused of involvement in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri called Tuesday on judges at a UN-backed tribunal to acquit him, saying prosecutors have not presented enough evidence for a conviction.
“Even taken at its highest, the prosecution evidence is not sufficient” to convict Hussein Hassan Oneissi, his lawyer Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse told the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
None of the four suspects is in custody and the trial at a courtroom just outside The Hague, Netherlands, is progressing in their absence. The Feb. 14, 2005, truck bombing in Beirut killed Hariri and 21 others and injured more than 220 passers-by.
Earlier this month, prosecutors wrapped up their case after four years. They called more than 260 witnesses and showed judges some 2,470 exhibits as they laid out their case that the four suspects plotted together to blow up Hariri with a massive truck bomb.
Defense attorneys have not yet presented any evidence. Lawyers for the three other suspects are not calling for acquittals at this stage of the trial.
All four suspects insist they are innocent and the Hezbollah militant group also denies involvement in Hariri’s assassination.
The case against a fifth suspect was halted in 2016 after he was killed in Syria.
Oneissi is charged as an accomplice and co-conspirator in the plot. Prosecutors accuse him of organizing a video-taped false claim of responsibility intended to shield the true perpetrators of the devastating bombing.
No time frame has been given for judges to rule on Courcelle-Labrousse’s motion for acquittal.


Russia to send modern S-300 missile defense systems to Syria

Updated 24 September 2018
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Russia to send modern S-300 missile defense systems to Syria

  • President Vladimir Putin has ordered additional security measures after a Syrian Soviet-era S-200 air defence missile shot down a Russian military plane by mistake
  • Russia will transfer the modern S-300 air defence system to the Syrian armed forces within two weeks

MOSCOW: Moscow will bolster Syria's air defence with a S-300 system and jam radars of military planes striking from off the coast of the Mediterranean following the downing of a Russian plane, its military chief said.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that President Vladimir Putin has ordered additional security measures after a Syrian Soviet-era S-200 air defence missile shot down a Russian military plane by mistake, killing 15, in an incident last week that Moscow blames on Israel.
"This has pushed us to adopt adequate response measures directed at boosting the security of Russian troops" in Syria, Shoigu said in a televised statement.
"(Russia will) transfer the modern S-300 air defence system to the Syrian armed forces within two weeks."
Syrian military had already been trained to use the system, which was set to be sent over in 2013 but was held up "at the request of Israel," Shoigu said.
"In regions near Syria over the Mediterranean Sea, there will be radio-electronic suppression of satellite navigation, on-board radar systems and communication systems of military aviation attacking objects on Syrian territory."
Moscow says Israeli F-16 planes which struck Latakia in western Syria on September 17 later used the landing Russian Il-20 surveillance plane as a "cover," which resulted in the Il-20 being struck by a Syrian air defence missile.
"We are certain that the realisation of these measures will cool the 'hot heads' and will keep them from poorly thought-out actions which threaten our servicemen," Shoigu said.