BEIRUT: In perhaps the biggest jolt to Hezbollah, the STL prosecution argued that Hussein El Khalil, the political advisor of Hassan Nasrallah, was the "link" between the four accused in carrying out the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, and Assad Hassan Sabra, along with former senior Hezbollah operative Moustafa Badreddine, are accused of orchestrating the 2005 attack which killed Hariri and 21 others.
The prosecution reiterated that Badreddine, believed to have perished in Syria in 2016, was the mastermind behind the complex operation.
The five accused, including Badreddine, used a complex phone network to communicate together and delegate tasks among each other.
Phones were categorized into five color-coded groups by the prosecution, yellow, green, blue, red, and purple.
Oneissi and Sabra are believed to be the architects of the false claim of responsibility by conjuring an elaborate plan to diverge attention and thwart the investigation.
According to the prosecution, both men pressured Ahmad Abu Adass, a young Palestinian man, to falsely take responsibility for the attack.
Following the intense compelling campaign, Abu Adass would later submit a video of him to Al-Jazeera takeing credit for the attack as part of the “Nusra and Jihad Group in Greater Syria," later proved a hoax by investigators.
The prosecution also argued that Hariri was under surveillance in the months leading to his death, as well as during his meeting with Nasrallah on December 21, 2004, in Haret Hreik.
Ayyash, together with Badreddine, is accused of coordinating “the surveillance of Hariri in preparation for the attack, including the purchase of the Mitsubishi Canter Van used” in the bombing.
As Hariri's convoy made its way to the bomb site, where the van was loaded with the equivalent of 1,000 kilograms of TNT, Ayyash made one last call to Badreddine on a green phone.
The blast killed Hariri and 21 others while injuring 226 people.
The trial is set to conclude in the coming months when the jury submits its decision in early 2019.
The prosecution based its case on three components, the forensic evidence on the cause of the explosion of February 14, 2005 and evidence related to the death and injury of the victims of this attack, the evidence of the preparatory acts undertaken by the accused and their co-conspirators in 2004-2005 to prepare for the assassination of Hariri.
The Trial Chamber decided to hold the trial in absentia after the accused absconded and elected not wish to participate in the trial. Their whereabouts are still unknown.
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