BEIRUT — A spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres quoted him as saying Monday that he “has taken note of the judgment delivered by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in which Hassan Habib Merhi and Hussein Hassan Oneissi were convicted in relation to the 14 February 2005 attack in Beirut that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others and injured more than 226.” The UN head also called upon "all to respect the decision of the Tribunal."
Here’s what we know:
• On March 10, the STL Appeals Chamber convicted Merhi and Oneissi, two alleged members of Hezbollah, for their role in the assassination.
• In 2020, the court had already sentenced another suspected Hezbollah member, Salim Ayyash, in absentia to life in prison for intentional homicide.
• “The secretary-general expresses his deep appreciation for the dedication and hard work of the judges and staff involved in this case throughout the years … he notes the independence and impartiality of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and calls upon all to respect the decision of the Tribunal,” the spokesperson also said, adding that Guetteres “urges the international community to continue supporting the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as it brings this case to a close.”
• Prosecutor Norman Farrell indicated in a press release on March 10 that “the responsibility does not stop with their conviction, MM. Merhi and Oneissi along with their co-conspirator Salim Ayyash are still at large free. Justice demands that they be arrested.” He also said he “hopes that this judicial process and this conclusion will contribute to strengthening accountability and the role of international justice.”
• At the end of its initial trial, the STL court had convicted Salim Ayyash but found that there was insufficient evidence to convict the other defendants, Oneissi and Merhi. The prosecution subsequently appealed the acquittals of these two suspects.
• Hezbollah has so far refused to hand over any suspects or to even recognize the STL court, which issued an international arrest warrant for Ayyash following his conviction.