Last updated: 12 July, 2011

Victims can join probe into ex-Lebanese PM’s murder

People harmed in the attack that killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri can join the legal proceedings, the tribunal investigating the 2005 killing said Tuesday.

“Individuals who have suffered physical, mental or material harm can apply to participate in the proceedings as victims,” the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) said in a statement.

“Through this process the voices of victims will be heard,” it said. “They will be able to fully participate in the trial before the tribunal.”

After a request, submitted on a form available on the tribunal’s website, is accepted “the victim is entitled to a number of rights similar to those of the prosecution and the defence”, said the tribunal.

Unless judges decide otherwise, victims must be assisted by a lawyer and expenses linked to the representation by a legal counsel can be paid by the tribunal.

Under tribunal statutes no damages are paid but if a suspect is convicted victims may ask to be compensated by national jurisdictions.

The UN-backed court last month issued a long-awaited indictment and arrest warrants for Hariri’s murder, naming four Hezbollah members. Their whereabouts are unknown.

Many fear that the arrest warrants could spark a political crisis and sectarian unrest in Lebanon.

The STL was set up in The Hague in 2009 by the United Nations to try those alleged to have carried out Hariri’s killing.

The murder sparked the so-called Cedar Revolution, a wave of mass protests that, combined with international pressure, forced Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon after a 29-year deployment.

Syria was widely suspected of having a hand in Hariri’s murder but has denied involvement.