Hariri Admits to Erring in Accusing Syrian of His Father’s Murder

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06/09/2010
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri admitted that he had erred in accusing Syria of assassinating his father after five years of rupturing ties with the neighboring country.

Hariri told the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in remarks published on Monday that the charge had been politically motivated and that when he assessed this mistake, he found that it had harmed the Syrian people and the ties between the two countries.

Initial suspicions on martyr Hariri’s 2005 assassination fell on Syria, and four Lebanese army generals. They were the ready-made suspects to be arrested during the UN investigation based on the testimonies of false witnesses.
They were detained without charge for four years before they were released on April 29, 2009 by a recommendation from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon for “complete absence of reliable evidence”. Dozens of Syrian workers were assailed and in many cases killed because of the tense rhetoric against Syria by the so called March 14 choral. The country was literally on the verge of disaster because of the division caused by the political accusation to Syria. There were the March 8 forces who demanded the truth behind the assassination of Hariri and the March 14 who wanted the truth to point only to Syria, then President Emile Lahoud and the four generals.

“One has to assess (events) in previous years so that past mistakes are not repeated,” Hariri said in his first clear confession to date of his earlier accusations against Syria.

Five years after the assassination, when the Saudi-Syrian ties went back to normal, Syria welcomed Hariri after he became prime minister.

Hariri told Asharq al-Awsat that he feels he is going to a friendly country when he travels to Damascus.

The investigation, by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, into Hariri’s assassination led by investigator Daniel Bellemare assumed in the first two reports that the Syrian government may be linked to the assassination. The same UN tribunal acquitted Syria from the political accusations in a 2009 report.

Concerning false witnesses, Hariri said: “Some people have misled the probe and harmed Syria and Lebanon … They have harmed ties between the two countries and politicized the assassination.”

“There is a (UN) court that is doing its job, and we for our part must reassess what happened,” he said. “The tribunal is completely independent of our political accusations, which were made prematurely,” Hariri added. “The tribunal only takes into consideration evidence.”

Hezbollah Secretary General in a July press conference called on so-called March 14 powers to review their position after they accused Syria in the first minutes after the assassination “because the results of their stances and their policies have affected Lebanon and the region.” “You were the prosecutor and you were the punishers.”

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