Court delays verdict on murder of former Lebanon PM Rafic Hariri after Beirut blast

A 2012 photo shows billboards in Lebanon bearing portrait of Rafiq Hariri on the eve of the anniversary of his assassination.
A 2012 photo shows billboards in Lebanon bearing portrait of Rafiq Hariri on the eve of the anniversary of his assassination.PHOTO: AFP

THE HAGUE (AFP) - A UN-backed tribunal said on Wednesday (Aug 5) it had suspended a verdict on the 2005 murder of former Lebanese premier Rafic Hariri following the deadly blast in Beirut.

The court's decision was due on Friday but the ruling has been postponed until Aug 18, the court said in a statement.

The death toll from Tuesday's huge blast at Beirut port has risen to at least 113, Lebanon's Health Minister Hamad Hassan said earlier on Wednesday.

It has been blamed on an unsecured store of ammonium nitrate at the port.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) "is deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic events that shook Lebanon yesterday," the court said in a statement.

"The Tribunal expresses its solidarity with the Lebanese people in these difficult times."

The STL issued "a scheduling order postponing the pronouncement of the Judgment," and said the verdict would now be delivered on Aug 18.

The court's flag was flown at half-mast "to honour those who lost their lives, who were wounded and who are still missing as a result of the explosion in Beirut".

At least 4,000 people were injured by the explosion, while dozens of people remain missing as rescue efforts continue.