The prosecutor of the UN-backed special tribunal for Lebanon filed an indictment today for the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Harriri and 22 others. Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare filed the indictment under seal, so technically we don’t yet know if top Hezbollah members–and their Syrian backers–are named, but it is probably a safe bet.
The Tribunal issued only a very brief statement noting the fact that the prosecutor filed the indictment, which must be reviewed by a judge before charges are formally brought. The prosecutor says he will elaborate in a video statement on Tuesday. In the meantime, this is big enough news that President Obama issued the following statement moments ago:
I welcome the announcement by the Office of the Prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon today that he has filed an indictment relating to the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others. This action represents an important step toward ending the era of impunity for murder in Lebanon, and achieving justice for the Lebanese people. I know that this is a significant and emotional time for the Lebanese people, and we join the international community in calling on all Lebanese leaders and factions to preserve calm and exercise restraint. The United States is a strong friend of Lebanon and we stand steadfastly with others in support of Lebanese sovereignty, independence, and stability.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon 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 and force a choice between justice or stability in Lebanon are offering a false choice, as the Lebanese people have a right to both justice and stability, and efforts to undercut the STL only legitimize its efforts and suggest its opponents have something to hide. Any attempt to fuel tensions and instability, in Lebanon or in the region, will only undermine the very freedom and aspirations that the Lebanese people seek and that so many nations support. At this critical moment, all friends of Lebanon must stand with the people of Lebanon.
We’ve known this day was coming for a long time–and Hezbollah’s last ditch effort to prevent it has apparently failed. This is a big deal, folks.