The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (TEL) postpones to August 18 the sentence for Hariri's assassination

The Court flew the flag at half-mast to honor the victims of the tragedy
The memory of Hariri's assassination is still present in Lebanon as this panel in Beirut shows

AFP / JOSEPH EID  -   The memory of Hariri's assassination is still present in Lebanon as this panel in Beirut shows

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (TEL), which is charged with trying the attack that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, today postponed the date on which it was due to deliver its judgement, next Friday, until 18 August, as a sign of respect for the victims of the explosion in the port of Beirut.

In a statement, the tribunal stressed that it was "deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic events" that shook Lebanon yesterday, referring to the explosion in the port of Beirut, which left more than a hundred dead, at least 4,000 injured, more than a hundred missing and some 200,000 homeless.

He also expresses his "solidarity" with the Lebanese "in these difficult times" and explains his decision to postpone the pronouncement of the sentence for the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister, which was scheduled for this Friday, out of "respect for the countless victims of the devastating explosion" that shook Beirut and for the three days of public mourning in Lebanon.

Earlier Wednesday, the tribunal flew the flag at half-mast to honour the victims of the tragedy, and out of respect for the missing who are still in the rubble of the buildings that were shaken by the explosion.

The tribunal, based near The Hague, has been trying four members of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah - Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra - in absentia since 2014, allegedly responsible for the car bomb attack on Hariri in the heart of Beirut 15 years ago.

They are charged with conspiracy to commit the attack, the assassination of Hariri and 21 others who died in the same attack, and the attempted murder of the 231 injured.

In addition, it also has jurisdiction over other attacks carried out in Lebanon during that time if they are considered to be linked to that episode. The TEL was established in 2009 by a UN Security Council resolution and, unlike other international tribunals in The Hague, its proceedings have been hampered by the absence of the suspects during the proceedings.

This is not the first time that this court has postponed its decision, the last time because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the sentence of 18 August next will be limited to declaring the accused guilty or innocent, but we will have to wait to know the sentence to which they will be sentenced.