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.


Turkey says Trump working on extraditing wanted cleric Gulen

Updated 50 min 21 sec ago
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Turkey says Trump working on extraditing wanted cleric Gulen

DOHA: US President Donald Trump has told his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan that Washington is working on extraditing a US-based Muslim cleric accused of orchestrating a failed Turkish coup in 2016, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Sunday.
“In Argentina, Trump told Erdogan they were working on extraditing (Fethullah) Gulen and other people,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said, referring to the G20 summit where the leaders met two weeks ago.
Turkey has long sought the extradition of Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed US exile for nearly two decades. A former ally of Erdogan, he is blamed by Turkish authorities for the failed coup when rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and helicopters, attacked parliament and shot unarmed civilians.
Gulen denies any involvement in the failed putsch.
Erdogan said last week Turkey would start new initiatives abroad to target the financing of Gulen supporters.
“I have recently seen a credible probe by the FBI on how the Gulen organization avoids taxes,” Cavusoglu told a conference in Doha.