The Hague // The leader of Lebanon's Hizbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, yesterday rejected the indictments that an international tribunal has issued against some of the group's members over the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. He called the suspects "brothers" and denied that Hizbollah was involved in the killing.
"No force in the world can arrest the suspects in the indictments," he warned.
Mr Nasrallah reacted in an extended televised speech on the indictments handed to the Lebanese authorities by the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) on Thursday. He particularly excoriated the Netherlands-based tribunal as politicised and being in the service of the United States and Israel.
He said that "in addition to the probe's lack of credibility, the investigators were corrupt, and justice cannot be served."
Mr Nasrallah accused foreign agents, particularly of the US Central Intelligence Agency, of being part of the STL and being on the team of the prosecutor Daniel Bellemare. The alleged agents were named in slick and dramatically produced video interludes.
Mr Nasrallah attacked the court and claimed that it did not investigate the possibility of Israeli involvement. He said that the investigation from the beginning was designed to "hit the reputation and the image of the resistance". Hizbollah describes itself as the resistance against Israel.
But he also urged Lebanon to remain calm and vowed to avoid strife over the issue. He said the timing of the indictments was meant to influence domestic Lebanese politics and bring down the new government, which is dominated by Hizbollah and its allies.
Hizbollah helped bring down a national unity government headed by Mr Hariri's son, Saad, in January over the issue of co-operation with the STL. The indictments were issued just as the new government prepared itself for a vote of confidence.
Saad Hariri and his allies are urging the new government to arrest the suspects and hand them to the STL. They have also appealed to the international community to make sure that Lebanon meets its obligation to co-operate with the tribunal.
The UN and western countries have urged Lebanon's new government, which is dominated by Hizbollah and its allies, to honour the arrest warrants. But Hizbollah's allies, Iran and Syria, have dismissed the STL.
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