Hariri tribunal begins operations in The Hague

Related: "CIA Implicated in Hariri Assassination, German Investigative Journalist Jailed to Silence Him"

Bellemare to seek suspects' transfer
By Dalila Mahdawi
Daily Star
March 02, 2009

... Three civilian suspects held in connection with Hariri's assassination were released on bail Wednesday. Justice minister Ibrahim Najjar said the release of Lebanese brothers Ahmad and Mahmoud Abdel Aal and Syrian national Ibrahim Jarjura was not politically motivated. Four former generals who led Lebanon's pro-Syrian security institutions at the time of Hariri's murder remain in detention.

LAF Intelligence head Raymond Azar, Mustapha Hamdan of the presidential guard, Internal Security Forces Director Ali Hajj and Jamil al-Sayyed from General Security were taken into custody in 2005 under the orders of former chief investigator Detlev Mehlis. The men have not been formally charged but were brought into custody on suspicion of terrorism, murder and attempted murder - accusations that their lawyers say are based on the false testimony of a witness later discredited by investigators. Sayyed's lawyer Akram Azuri said on Friday he was 'extremely optimistic' the four generals would be released imminently. ...

Full story at the Lebanon Daily Star

Analysis - The Verdict of the Tribunal "Depends on Rapprochement with Syria"

BEIRUT: ... The ultimate impact of the tribunal depends mostly on the outcome of the growing entente between Syria and the US and US allies in the Middle East, a number of analysts told The Daily Star on Friday.

Rumors have long swirled that the tribunal would function as a bargaining chip in the standoff between the US and its allies here on the one hand and the camp of Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hizbullah on the other. While the analysts said the tribunal would not simply fade away or never conduct a trial, they also acknowledged that political considerations could limit the tribunal's scope.

"The rapprochement with Syria is key to determining the final verdict," said Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, who wrote the 2002 book "Hizbullah: Politics and Religion" and teaches political science at Lebanese American University. "Syria is key to any regional stability, from Lebanon to Iraq."

Arab states and the US are trying to decouple Syria from Iran, with Arab countries perhaps willing to negotiate about the tribunal if Syria will help keep Iraq from falling entirely under Tehran's sway, said retired General Elias Hanna, who teaches political science at Notre Dame University ...

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