Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2014

Trials and Tribulations in Lebanon

David Schenker

January 2014

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy


Last week, the four suspects charged with the 2005 murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri finally went on trial in The Hague. In the coming months, these men -- all members of the Iranian-backed Shiite militia Hezbollah -- will be prosecuted in absentia for their role in the bombing that killed twenty-four people, including Hariri, the leader of Lebanon's Sunni Muslim community. The court proceedings for this overtly sectarian crime are already reverberating in Lebanon, heightening tensions in a state reeling from the Sunni-Shiite war next door in Syria. Further complicating matters, the trial coincides with contentious negotiations in Beirut over the formation of a new government.