STL Prosecution Says Booby-Trapped Truck Came from Dahieh, Mentions 'Syria' for First Time
The Hague - Naharnet Exclusive
The Prosecution of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Friday crowned its 2-day presentation about the outcome of investigations into the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri by unveiling the route taken by the booby-trapped truck, the hierarchy of the assassination squad and a series of elements that might lead to major surprises as the trial moves forward.
The noteworthy conclusions on the second day of the trial -- during which Prosecution representative Graeme Cameron continued what he started Thursday regarding the telecom data evidence -- can be summarized as follows:
1. At least two individuals monitored the movements of ex-PM Rafik Hariri during his presence at the parliament building, especially in the last hour that preceded the assassination crime, and they used two cellphones that activated a mobile phone tower that covers an area of only 84 square meters, which means that the surveillance occurred exclusively inside the aforementioned spot. This point raises speculation about the identities of the two individuals who enjoyed freedom of movement inside this circle, in which the parliament building and MPs' offices are located.
2. The accused Salim Ayyash, who was in the vicinity of the parliament building, telephoned the two suspects S5 and S7 who were in Beirut's southern suburbs and asked them to bring the booby-trapped truck after he confirmed Hariri's arrival. Following a phone call between S5 and S7, the duo headed from Dahieh to the Ras al-Nabaa area before entering the Suleiman Franjieh Tunnel.
At that point, the two suspects parted, with S7 heading to Ayyash's location and S5 continuing his advance to the crime scene in Ain el-Mreisseh. This raises an important question: is S5 himself the suicide bomber or he only accompanied the attacker to the crime scene and left him there to carry out the murder?
3. For the first time since the release of the indictment, the Prosecution mentions the word “Syria.” The Prosecution said investigations revealed that the accused Hassan Merhi received a 20-minute phone call from the accused Mustafa Badreddine – the longest phone conversation to be mentioned by the Prosecution until now. Merhi then made a phone call a few hours later that activated a mobile phone tower located near the border between Lebanon and Syria.
Could this hint be indicative of certain information that will be unveiled by the Prosecution regarding the possible involvement of Syria or Syrian individuals in the crime? Does this verify reports that the truck was booby-trapped in Syria's Zabadani? Was the phone call related to the issue of Abu Adas, knowing that reports had said he was handed over to the Syrian intelligence?
4. The Prosecution clearly detailed the hierarchy of the assassination team, saying it was led by Mustafa Badreddine who issued instructions to Salim Ayyash, who in turn was in charge of the surveillance and execution teams that were moving on the ground as well as the trio Assad Sabra, Hussein Oneissi and Hassan Merhi. The latter three lured Abu Adas and distributed the video in which the false claim of responsibility was announced.
Legal sources following up on the investigations into the assassination did not rule out that the Prosecution might disclose other details pertaining to the structure of the pyramid-like hierarchy that go higher than Badreddine during later stages of the case.