"For the first time, a legal case has been launched against those responsible for a political assassination in Lebanon."
The prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has filed with the pre-trial judge a sealed indictment in the 2005 assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri and 22 others. Special prosecutor Daniel Bellemare said "this is an important moment for the people of Lebanon. It marks the launch of the judicial phase of the tribunal. For the first time, a legal case has been launched against those responsible for a political assassination in Lebanon."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the indictment an "important step toward justice and ending impunity for murder. Those who oppose the Tribunal seek to create a false choice between justice and stability in Lebanon," she said. 'We reject this."
After the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri, Lebanon and the United Nations negotiated an international agreement establishing the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the provisions of that agreement were brought into force by the U.N. Security Council. The Tribunal has jurisdiction to investigate and bring cases against those responsible for the murder of Hariri and others, and additional related assassinations in Lebanon.
President Barack Obama called for all Lebanese leaders and factions to preserve calm and restraint. The special Tribunal for Lebanon, he said, "must be allowed to continue its work, free from interference and coercion. That is the way to advance the search for the truth, the cause of justice and the future of Lebanon. Those who have tried to manufacture a crisis," said President Obama, "and force a choice between justice or stability in Lebanon are offering a false choice."
The United States and all friends of Lebanon stand together in support of its sovereignty and independence. While great progress has been made since 2005, it will be impossible to achieve the peace and stability that the people of Lebanon deserve unless and until the era of impunity for political assassinations in Lebanon is brought to an end.