Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar Assad reiterated Tuesday that if any Syrian was found implicated in the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri, he will be tried by a Syrian court and not an international court. "Anybody who has a hand in this case would be considered a traitor by the Syrian law," Assad said in an interview with France 2 television.

"This person will be tried by a Syrian court and his punishment will be greater than any sentence issued by another court," Assad said.

Assad was referring to the prospective establishment of a UN-backed international tribunal that would try suspects in the Hariri killing.

"We won’t give up our sovereignty," he said.

When asked about accusations of Syria’s involvement in the assassination, Assad said: "No one can hurl accusations without any evidence, be it [French] President [Jacques] Chirac or any other person."

Those who "want to accuse Syria have to present evidence," he said.

Assad said that what he described as Chirac’s desire to "isolate Syria" had not led to "positive results."