BEIRUT: In its second day of closing arguments at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the prosecution showed evidence demonstrating “that the phones identified are those undoubtedly used for the preparation and execution of the attack” belonging to the four accused.
Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, and Assad Hassan Sabra, along with former senior Hezbollah operative Mustafa Badr Eddine, are accused of orchestrating the 2005 attack on former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The prosecution is relying on cellular data from over 40 phones separated into 5 five color-coded networks, green, blue, red, yellow and purple.
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.
According to the prosecution, Ayash used phones from the yellow, green, blue and red networks “along with Badreddine, to prepare the overall elements of the assassination.”
Merhi, "the third member of the coordination team", used a covert green network phone to communicate with Badreddine while using the purple network to communicate with other operatives.
Oneissi and Sabra, says the prosecution, played an “important role” within the false claim of responsibility by diverging attention onto an unknown group.
Oneissi's use of a phone "codenamed Purple 095 and Sabra's use of phone codenamed Purple 018 reflect their "involvement in the recruitment and abduction of Ahmad Abu Adass under the coordination of Merhi using a phone codenamed Purple 231."
Abu Adass, was at the center of early investigations, having been shown apparently making a confession in a videotape recovered shortly after the 2005 assassination of Hariri.
The prosecution also argued that Merhi "further coordinated Oneissi and Sabra in relation to the calls made to Al Jazeera and Reuters to ensure delivery and broadcast of the video of Abu Adass falsely claiming responsibility for committing the attack."
Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed on February 14, 2005, when a roadside bomb was detonated.
Explosives equivalent to 1,000 kilograms of TNT were detonated as his motorcade passed in downtown Beirut near the St. George Hotel.
A decision is expected to be reached in 2019, 14 years after the assassination of Hariri which killed 21 others, and injured 226 more.
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.
Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri acknowledged the arduous tasked faved by the court, saying that “there are conflicting feelings towards the proceedings” in Lebanon.
“It’s a reality that everyone must face,” he said, before reiterating that those “who killed my father will face justice sooner or later.”
Touching on the Cabinet formation, which has failed to come to fruition, Hariri maintained that President Michel Aoun sought amendments to his latest draft lineup after submitting it two weeks ago.
“I have to consult with all parties,” Hariri said.
Lebanon has been without a fully functioning Cabinet ever since it entered its caretaker mode on May 21.