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Tribunal opens to investigate killing of former Lebanese leader

The United Nations opened a tribunal at The Hague in The Netherlands to identify and prosecute those responsible for the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others in a car bombing in 2005.

According to the International Herald Tribune, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was set up by the United Nations Security Council because it did not believe the Lebanese government was in a position to hold an independent investigation leading up to the trials.

The chief prosecutor, Daniel Bellemare of Canada, told the International Herald Tribune he would soon ask Lebanon to transfer suspects and evidence and would continue his own investigations.

Syria is believed to be involved in the assassination, but it has denied any involvement. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported the tribunal is likely to ask Lebanon to hand over four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals who had been held since August 2005 on suspicion of murder and terrorist acts but never formally charged.

The tribunal will have eleven judges. Four judges will be Lebanese, but the others include British, Dutch and Italian judges. The names of the judges will be announced when they are sworn in.

Hriri was killed in 2005 when a van packed with explosives blew up.