Politics Hezbollah members sentenced to life in prison for killing...

Hezbollah members sentenced to life in prison for killing Lebanese leader

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Leedshendam, Netherlands (AP) – Two members of the militant Hezbollah group were sentenced to life in prison on Thursday by appeals judges for their role in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the deaths of 21 others in 2005.

Hassan Habib Merhi and Hussein Hassan Onaisi, who were convicted, were arrested and not sent to the Lebanese Special Tribunal in the Netherlands. He was interrogated when they were absent and they were on the run.
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Merhi and Onissi were convicted on appeal on five counts in March of plotting to assassinate Hariri and 21 others. They were all killed when conspirators detonated a huge truck bomb outside a hotel on the beach in Beirut as Hariri’s motorcade advanced.

The blast injured another 226 people and plunged Lebanon into political turmoil.

During Thursday’s hearing, the tribunal’s president, Czech judge Ivana Hrdlikova, said Merhi and Onissi were facing life imprisonment for each of their five convictions. If they are ever caught and imprisoned, the sentences are executed simultaneously.

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Prosecutors have appealed after two people were acquitted nearly two years ago after a lengthy trial that found another Hezbollah member, Salim Ayyash, was involved in the February 14, 2005 bombings. Ayyash, who was also tried in his absence, was sentenced to life imprisonment.

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  • The tribunal’s 2020 ruling has sparked anger and frustration in some parts of Lebanon. Trial judges said there was no evidence that Hezbollah leadership and Syria were involved in the attack, but said the assassination came as Hariri and his political allies were discussing Syria’s withdrawal of its forces from Lebanon.

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