A special tribunal for Lebanon has sentenced Hezbollah operative Salim Ayyash to five concurrent life sentences in absentia for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri and 21 other people.
The United Nations-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon has sentenced Hezbollah operative Salim Ayyash to five concurrent life sentences in absentia for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri and 21 other people, according to the court hearing on Friday.
The Netherlands-based court found Ayyash of the massive car bombing that rocked Lebanon, sparking widespread demonstrations and international pressure that prompted the subsequent withdrawal of Syrian forces from the country, 30 years after entering it during the nation’s civil war.
According to the court, Ayyash played a “leading role” as a member of the assassination squad that was “integral” to the killing of many people, including Hariri.
“Mr. Ayyash participated in an act of terrorism that caused mass murder. His role … was vital to the success of the attack,” Presiding Judge David Re said during the hearing. “The trial chamber is satisfied that it should impose the maximum sentence for each of the five crimes of life imprisonment, to be served concurrently.”
The former premier was known for his advocacy to reduce the influence of Syria in Lebanon’s politics at the time of his murder.
The militant group of Hezbollah has been Syria’s strong supporter and ally in Lebanon.
The court convicted Ayyash for the “conspiracy of committing a terrorist act”, “committing a terrorist act by means of an explosive device” and the “intentional homicide” of Hariri.
Ayyash was also charged with the intentional homicide of 21 other people and the attempted intentional homicide of 226 individuals who got injured during the 2005 massive bombing.
The court then issued an international arrest warrant for Ayyash and urged those who help in hiding him to surrender him to the authorities.
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