Jan. 16 - The trial in absentia of the alleged killers of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri opens in the Hague, nine years after the attack took place in Beirut. Mana Rabiee reports.
The Hague, in the Netherlands. It's here that the murder trial of Lebanon's former Prime Minister, Rafik al-Hariri, began on Thursday. Nine years after the massive bomb attack on a Beirut waterfront that killed him and 21 others and wounded over 200 more. Chief Prosecutor Norman Farrell. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF PROSECUTOR NORMAN FARRELL SAYING: "The attackers used an extraordinary quantity of high-grade explosives, far more than was required to kill their main target. Clearly their aim was not only to ensure that their target was killed, but to send a terrifying message and to cause panic among the population of Beirut and Lebanon." The 2005 attack was aimed at critics of Syria's military dominance in Lebanon. It almost tipped the country back into civil war. Four men from Lebanon's Hezbollah movement are accused in the murder. They remain at large and are being tried in absentia. The U.N. backed special tribunal is a contentious issue in Lebanon and on Thursday Beirut residents seemed divided over its expectations. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE CITIZEN, SLEIMAN BAKHTI, SAYING: "It is a good step for the value of the law for Lebanon and the value of justice for the people of Lebanon." (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE CITIZEN, ADNAN HARAKI, SAYING: ''We hope that we can just finish from this tribunal, because Lebanon has spent eight years of hardship and trouble due to this trial's situation and its issues.'' Hariri's murder trial is expected to last years. His supporters hope it will end the sense of impunity in Lebanon, where bombers and assassins have operated for decades with little prospect of facing justice in court.