Hariri killing trial opens with Lebanon violence untamed
LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands (AFP) - The trial in absentia of four Hizbollah members accused of murdering former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri in 2005 opens at a UN-backed court on Thursday, with sectarian violence an undiminished threat at home.
Nine years after the huge Beirut car bombing killed billionaire Hariri, leading to the exit of Syrian troops from Lebanon, and three years into Syria's own bloody civil war, prosecutors are to finally open their case in a suburb outside The Hague.
The February 14, 2005 seafront blast killed 22 people including Damascus opponent Hariri and wounded 226, leading to the establishment by the UN Security Council of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in 2007.
Although the attack was initially blamed on pro-Syrian Lebanese generals, the court in 2011 issued arrest warrants against Mustafa Badreddine, 52, Salim Ayyash, 50, Hussein Oneissi, 39, and Assad Sabra, 37, all members of Syrian-backed Shi'ite movement Hizbollah.