All Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, has criticised the international investigation into the 2005 asssassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, Lebanon’s former prime minister. Nasrallah said on Friday that a decision by a UN-backed court to free Lebanese officers held over the murder does not mean the tribunal is "honest" and instead "is proof that…their detention was political." He also called on Lebanon to widen its investigation into the assassination to include the possibility of Israeli involvement.

"Whoever says that Israel did not have the motive or interest in killing al-Hariri would be killing al-Hariri a second time," he said.

Suspects release

In depth

 Profile: Rafiq al-Hariri
 Timeline: Al-Hariri investigation
 Split remains over Hariri tribunal

The UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon ordered the release of four Lebanese officers who are considered to be pro-Syrian on Wednesday, saying there was not sufficient evidence to keep the charges.

The officers, widley seen as symbols of Syria’s domination over Lebanon at the time of the killing, were among several other Syrian and Lebanese officials listed as potential suspects in a preliminary report by the international investigation.

Nasrallah insists that the release of the officers proves that the international investigation was false and politically motivated.

"I hope that nobody will ask us in advance to accept anything from the prosecutor, or the international investigation, or the judges of the tribunal simply because it issued a correct decision two days ago," he said.

Syria has been blamed by many for al-Hariri’s murder, although Syria’s government has repeatedly denied the allegations. But just two months after the assassination, Syria pulled all of its troops from Lebanon, ending a nearly three decade military presence in the country.

The release of the four officers was announced just under one month before Lebanon’s parliamentary elections on June 7, which will see al-Hariri’s son, Saad, up against the Hezbollah-led alliance.



The Hague-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Wednesday ordered the release of the four generals seen as pillars of a Lebanese state dominated by neighboring Syria at the time of the killing.

The generals were among a number of Syrian and Lebanese officials implicated in a preliminary report by the international investigation. The head of the inquiry at the time, Detlev Mehlis, requested their detention.

Syria has always denied any involvement in the assassination, which led to its military withdrawal from Lebanon. The generals always said they were innocent.

The prosecutor said in his filing to the court on Wednesday that an assessment of evidence had not proved sufficiently credible to warrant indictments due to inconsistencies in potentially key witness statements and a lack of corroborative evidence.

"After four years, the truth of the falsification and politicization of the work of the international investigation commission has become clear," said Nasrallah, a close ally of Syria whose group backed the generals’ campaign for freedom.

"Today, I hope that nobody will ask us in advance to accept anything from the prosecutor, or the international investigation, or the judges of the tribunal simply because it issued a correct decision two days ago," he added.


The Hariri killing plunged Lebanon into its worst internal crisis since the 1975-90 civil war, opening a political chasm between opponents of Syria’s influence in the country and its allies.

The international investigation into the killing, which was followed by more assassinations targeting anti-Syrian figures, was established by the U.N. Security Council, which Hezbollah regularly accuses of bias.

Nasrallah attacked the United Nations over what he said was recent criticism of his group by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in remarks over Hezbollah’s activities in Egypt.

"Mr. Ban Ki-moon is dragging the United Nations into a confrontation with Hezbollah and with the resistance movements in the region," Nasrallah said.

Egypt’s public prosecutor office has said 25 Egyptian, Palestinian, Sudanese and Lebanese men linked to Hezbollah have been detained over alleged plans to carry out attacks in Egypt.

Hezbollah has denied the allegations, but admitted last month that the Egyptian authorities had detained a member of the group who had been providing military supplies to Gaza, helped by up to 10 other people.  

(Additional reporting by Laila Bassam)