x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Hizbollah denies Hariri murder claim

The Lebanese political party Hizbollah rejects a press report that it was behind the 2005 murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.

Hizbollah has rejected a German magazine report that a UN probe found it was behind the 2005 murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri as a ploy to influence Lebanon's election just two weeks away. "This is a pure fabrication aimed at influencing the election campaign and to deflect attention from the news about the dismantling of spy networks working for Israel," a statement from the Shiite Islamic group said.

Germany's Der Spiegel reported yesterday that the UN commission probing the Hariri murder had new evidence that Hizbollah special forces "planned and executed" the Beirut car bombing on Feb 14 2005. The attack killed the former billionaire premier and 22 other people. Der Spiegel's claims come ahead of a June 7 election in Lebanon that pits the US-backed parliamentary majority against an alliance headed by Hizbollah, which has the support of Syria and Iran.

Since January, Lebanon has charged a total of 18 people with spying for neighbouring Israel. Hizbollah, which fought a devastating 2006 war with Israel, said the Spiegel allegations "harm the credibility" of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and called on The Hague-based court to act to unmask those behind the "lies." "This is not the first time that newspapers have resorted to such fabrications," said the Shiite group.