Hezbollah warns against cooperating with UN Hariri probe

BEIRUT, Natacha Yazbeck- Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday urged all Lebanese to boycott a UN-backed probe into ex-premier Rafiq Hariri's murder, warning that cooperation amounted to an attack on his militant group.
"We have reached a very dangerous point where our honour has been breached," he said in a televised address during which he charged that the probe was passing on information to Israel, Hezbollah's arch-foe.

Hassan Nasrallah
Hassan Nasrallah
"I call on all Lebanese, citizens ... and politicians alike, to boycott this tribunal and end all cooperation with investigators" probing the assassination of Hariri, who was killed in a massive Beirut bombing in 2005, said Nasrallah.
"Any further cooperation with the tribunal is equal to an attack on the resistance," he added, referring to his powerful Syrian- and Iranian-backed Shiite movement.
Nasrallah's speech came one day after two investigators from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) were attacked by a group of angry women at a gynaecology clinic in a Hezbollah-controlled southern suburb of Beirut.
The investigators had requested information on patients from the clinic's head doctor and were leaving her office when about 30 women charged at the pair and snatched a briefcase from them.
The office of STL prosecutor Daniel Bellemare later issued a statement vowing that such incidents would not deter the investigation.
Lebanon is facing a full-blown crisis over The Hague-based STL amid reports it is set to accuse members of Hezbollah over the murder of Hariri, a Saudi-backed Sunni.
Nasrallah has confirmed that several of members of his movement, both male and female, have been interrogated in connection with the killing.
Hezbollah has also accused the United Nations of interfering in Lebanese affairs and called instead for a local investigation.
But Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a son of the slain former premier, has vowed to see the UN tribunal through.
Nasrallah on Thursday said his party was bracing to face an STL accusation towards the end of the year.
"The indictment was written in 2006 and it is a carbon copy" of what has been published in the German magazine Der Spiegel, the French daily Le Figaro and elsewhere, he said, referring to articles published last year and allegedly based on leaks from the tribunal.
"I was informed of this in 2008," he added.
"I was also informed a short while ago, and I hope this is not true, that the United States is pushing for the indictment to be issued sooner than the expected date in December."
The Shiite leader said the UN investigators had encroached on Muslim sensitivities with the visit to the gynaecology clinic and accused the tribunal of being another channel for Israeli intelligence.
"Why would the investigators go to a clinic that is frequented by the daughters, sisters and wives of Hezbollah leaders?" Nasrallah asked. "How are our women's medical files necessary to the investigation?
"We have long known that every piece of information given to the tribunal was passed on to Western intelligence, but we were silent," he added.
"Why were we silent? Solely to avoid being told we were obstructing the tribunal, out of respect for Hariri and his family and others.
"But we now have reached a point where we can no longer keep silent for anyone's sake," said Nasrallah.
"Every piece of information secured by investigators of this tribunal reaches the Israelis," he added. "These violations are enough."
Nasrallah's warning came only hours after UN special envoy for Lebanon Terje Roed-Larsen said the country was in a "hyper-dangerous" state and warned of "a hurricane blowing up" in the Middle East.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, meanwhile accused Syria and Iran of fuelling tensions in Lebanon by supplying illicit arms to their ally Hezbollah.

Thursday, October 28th 2010
Natacha Yazbeck

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