Lebanon's Saad Hariri arrives for trial of Hezbollah agents accused of killing father

Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri arrived in the Netherlands on Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 10 September 2018
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Lebanon's Saad Hariri arrives for trial of Hezbollah agents accused of killing father

  • The long-running trial at a UN-backed court in the Netherlands resumes on Tuesday
  • Rafik Hariri, Lebanon's former prime minister, was killed by a huge bomb in Beirut in 2005.

THE HAGUE:  Saad Hariri, Lebanon's premier-designate, arrived in the Netherlands on Monday to attend the final stage of the trial of four Hezbollah agents accused of killing his father.

The long-running trial at a UN-backed court of the men accused of assassinating Rafik Hariri, himself a former prime minister, will resume on Tuesday.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers will make their final statements but the defendants will be absent.

The extraordinary trial seeks to bring to justice those behind the huge bomb in Beirut that killed Hariri in 2005.

Hezbollah has refused to turn over the four indicted men – Salim Ayyash, Hussein Oneissi, Assad Sabra and Hassan Habib Merhi – for the trial which began in January 2014.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon said that two weeks of closing arguments will start with the prosecution on Tuesday presenting “a summary of the case they presented in court since 2014.”

Legal representatives for the victims of the attack, which killed 21 people besides billionaire Hariri and injured 226, will follow suit, followed by the defense, AFP reported.

A verdict is not expected until next year.

 

The assassination of Hariri, who was Lebanon’s Sunni prime minister until his resignation in October 2004, was a pivotal moment in the country’s history.

Fingers pointed at Syria after the bomb detonated next to Hariri’s armored convoy on the Beirut seafront.

The bombing triggered a wave of mass demonstrations that ended with the the departure of Syrian forces from Lebanon after a 30-year presence, after which Hariri’s son Saad became premier.

When the tribunal eventually handed down indictments it targeted four members of Hezbollah.

Saad Hariri is about to start his third term in office. Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star said Hariri had arrived in the Netherlands on Monday.

Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah has repeatedly dismissed the tribunal as a US-Israeli plot.


Palestinians to cut civil servant salaries after Israeli tax freeze

Updated 21 February 2019
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Palestinians to cut civil servant salaries after Israeli tax freeze

  • Israel's security cabinet on Sunday approved the freezing of $138 million (122 million euros) over the PA's payments to the families of prisoners, or prisoners themselves, jailed for attacks on Israelis
  • Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Wednesday he would not accept anything but full payment of the tax transfers owed by Israel

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian finance minister on Thursday announced salary cuts for civil servants, days after Israel said it would withhold tens of millions of dollars in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority.
Israel's security cabinet on Sunday approved the freezing of $138 million (122 million euros) over the PA's payments to the families of prisoners, or prisoners themselves, jailed for attacks on Israelis.
Israel, which collects taxes on behalf of the PA, says the payments encourage further violence.
The PA claims they are a form of welfare to families who have lost their main breadwinner.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Wednesday he would not accept anything but full payment of the tax transfers owed by Israel.
The PA, which is already running a deficit, will "pay the salaries of civil servants in time, but they will be reduced", said PA finance minister Shukri Bishara after a meeting with EU representatives in Ramallah.
The cuts will not apply to salaries "paid to pensioners and families of martyrs, wounded or prisoners", he added, adding that wages below 2,000 shekels ($550) would also not be affected.
Many Palestinians view prisoners and those killed while carrying out attacks as heroes in their conflict with Israel. Palestinian leaders often venerate them as martyrs.
Under a 1994 agreement, Israel collects around $190 million each month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports.
The money it then transfers to the PA is the authority's most important source of revenue.
The Palestinians want EU countries to pressure the Israeli government to rescind its decision, said Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy of Abbas's Fatah party.
Palestinian leaders will take steps to "boycott Israeli goods", he said, adding they had already prepared "a list of Israeli products that have local (Palestinian) equivalents".