Hezbollah accuses Israel of Hariri assassination | world | Hindustan Times
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Hezbollah accuses Israel of Hariri assassination

world Updated: Aug 10, 2010 13:35 IST

The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah militants presented aerial reconnaissance footage that he said implicates Israel in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

But Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, who has been in hiding since his Shiite Muslim group battled Israel in a monthlong 2006 war, acknowledged the material was not absolute proof.

"This is evidence, indications ... that open new horizons for the investigations," Nasrallah said at a lengthy press conference late yesterday in which he spoke to reporters via satellite link.

The speech comes as pressure is mounting on Hezbollah over a Netherlands-based tribunal investigating Hariri's assassination, which is set to issue indictments this year. If Hezbollah is indicted, there are fears it could spark riots between the Sunni supporters of Hariri and Shiite followers of Hezbollah.

The two sides have clashed before following political power struggles. In May 2008, Hezbollah gunmen swept through Sunni pro-government neighborhoods of Beirut, raising the threat of a new civil war.

Israel immediately dismissed Hezbollah's accusations.

"The international community, the Arab world, and most importantly, the people of Lebanon all know that these accusations are simply ridiculous," a senior Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no government statement was made.

Hariri was killed in a massive Valentine's Day truck bombing in 2005 that many in Lebanon blamed on Syria, which backs Hezbollah.

Syria denies any involvement in the assassination.

Hariri, a billionaire businessman credited with rebuilding Lebanon after its 15-year civil war, had been trying to limit Syria's domination of Lebanon in the months before his assassination.

The killing sparked massive anti-Syrian protests in Lebanon, dubbed the "Cedar Revolution," which led to Syria's withdrawal.