Hariri-Court: ‘Data, data, data, …bla, bla, bla…!’


“… The probe into the cellphone networks was first revealed in October 2005 in the initial report of a U.N. commission investigating the assassination. The cellphone evidence does beg a question, however. The indictment acknowledges that the conspirators were aware that the locations of mobile phones can be traced — that’s why, it argues, they sought to disguise their tracks by activating the “red network” in a stronghold of Sunni Islamists in north Lebanon where few Shi’ites are found. But if they were that diabolically clever, it’s puzzling that the conspirators would use their carefully camouflaged “red network” phones while also carrying not only other operational color-coded phones, but even their personal cellphones which can still be traced even when not being used. Hizballah’s highly secretive and technologically profficient personnel would have known that the only way to avoid a trace is to remove the battery and sim card from the phone. Yet, according to the indictment, it was the proximity of the four men’s personal phones to the color-coded secret phones that helped identify them.
Another surprise is the apparent lack of supporting evidence in the indictment. Although the tribunal’s pre-trial judge assessed that the accumulated evidence was sufficient to indict the four accused, it was widely assumed that after six years of investigations the tribunal would have amassed evidence beyond just the telecoms records.
The reliance on the cellphone data for the prosecution case suggests that Nasrallah will soon make another of his periodic televized addresses to sow doubt on the tribunal’s credibility. Hizballah accuses Israel of killing Hariri, arguing that only the Jewish state stood to benefit from the assassination. A year ago, Nasrallah broadcast what he said was footage from Israeli reconnaissance drones intercepted by Hizballah technicians showing the routes taken by Hariri’s motorcades in and around Beirut. He said that this demonstrated Israel had been monitoring Hariri’s movements.
Nasrallah’s effort to demolish the tribunal’s case in the public mind will have been assisted by the arrest in June last year of a senior employee of Alfa, one of two state-run mobile phone operators, on charges of collaborating with Israel. Charbel Qazzi, a senior technician, admitted under interrogation that he had been spying for Israel for 14 years. His position within Alfa reportedly granted the Israelis the ability to track and monitor individuals and tamper with telecoms data.
Meanwhile, the four accused Hizballah men are rumored to be living openly and without fear of arrest in areas under the Shi’ite party’s control. It is highly unlikely that Hizballah would hand over any of them to a tribunal it says was established as a means of attacking the organization. …Judging from the comments and relaxed attitude of the accused Hizballah member interviewed by TIME, it’s a safe bet that the dock will be empty when the trials finally begin.”

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