LEIDSCHENDAM: An international court sentenced a fugitive Hezbollah member on Friday to five life jail terms for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri and 21 other people.
Salim Ayyash, 57, was found guilty in absentia of murder and terrorism on August 18 by the Netherlands-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon over the huge suicide bombing that killed the Sunni billionaire politician and injured 226 others.
Ayyash remains on the run. Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Shiite Hezbollah movement, refusing to hand him over or to recognise the UN-backed court.
“Mr Ayyash participated in an act of terrorism that caused mass murder,” chief Judge David Re said as he announced the sentence.
“The trial chamber is satisfied that it should impose the maximum sentence for each of the five crimes of life imprisonment, to be served concurrently.”
The court issued an international arrest warrant against Ayash for “extremely serious” crimes.
He said that the Hezbollah chief’s refusal to surrender Ayash led Judge Lei to make the “inference” that he was blocked from judicial protection.
Hariri’s son Saad himself continues to serve as prime minister, and he appeals to the Lebanese authorities to help bring Ayyash to justice.
“The sentence issued against Salim Ayyash should be executed and Lebanese judicial and security officials should fulfill their duties in this regard,” Hariri said in a post on Twitter.