Dutch-based court files new charges against Hariri suspect

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FILE – This Jan. 16, 2014, file photo, shows an exterior view of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, in Leidschendam, Netherlands. The Tribunal, a U.N.-backed court based in the Netherlands, on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, filed new charges including terrorism and intentional homicide against a Hezbollah fighter who also is accused of assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. The Tribunal announced that a judge has confirmed a new five-count indictment accusing Salim Jamil Ayyash of three bombings targeting Lebanese politicians in 2004 and 2005. (Toussaint Kluiter/Pool, File)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A U.N.-backed court based in the Netherlands unveiled new charges Monday, including terrorism and intentional homicide, against a Hezbollah fighter who also is accused of assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon announced that a judge has confirmed a new five-count indictment accusing Salim Jamil Ayyash of three bombings targeting Lebanese politicians in 2004 and 2005. The court also issued a Lebanese and an international arrest warrant for Ayyash, whose whereabouts aren’t known.

He was one of four Hezbollah fighters tried in absentia by the tribunal for allegedly masterminding the truck bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others and wounded more than 220 passers-by on Feb. 14, 2005. Judges haven’t yet reached verdicts.

Hezbollah denies involvement in Hariri’s assassination.

The new indictment, issued under seal in June, accuses Ayyash of three bombings on Oct. 1, 2004, June 21 and July 12, 2005, each targeting a different politician — Marwan Hamadeh, Georges Hawi and Elias El-Murr.

Hawi was killed and the other two politicians wounded in the attacks. Two other people also were killed and nearly 20 injured.

“Ayyash coordinated the preparation and execution of each of these attacks,” the indictment says.

The indictment comes amid mounting pressure on Hezbollah by the U.S. that recently intensified sanctions against the group targeting for the first time two Hezbollah members of parliament in July.

Former Cabinet Minister Wiam Wahhab, a strong ally of Hezbollah, tweeted: “We are not surprised that the international tribunal issued its indictment to coincide Washington’s attack (on Hezbollah) in which it is using all its weapons.”

“This is a tribunal full of lies and has no credibility,” Wahhab said.

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Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.

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