The outgoing prosecutor at the UN-backed tribunal set up to try suspects over the murder of Lebanese ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri said Monday that justice awaits for the people of Lebanon.
Daniel Bellamare is due to end his mandate at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) at the end of this month, just weeks after the court announced it would try four Hezbollah members for the 2005 Hariri assassination even though they remain at large.
"As my professional involvement with the people of Lebanon comes to an end, I would like to leave you with a message of hope. Historic days lie ahead for justice and the people of Lebanon," Bellamare said in a statement.
"But justice does not happen overnight. In this respect, the Lebanese people, and especially the victims, have been patient. For this, I want to thank all of you."
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The Hague-based court said earlier this month that Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Hussein Anaissi and Assad Sabra will be tried in absentia for the massive February 14, 2005, car bombing in Beirut that killed Hariri and 22 others, including a suicide bomber.
Bellemare, the former head of the Federal Prosecution Service in Canada, took up his post as the STL prosecutor in March 2009 but said last year that he would not seek a second term.
He is due to leave on February 29 but a successor has not been named.
The court sent arrest warrants for the four suspects to Beirut in June, and Interpol issued a "red notice" in July. But the authorities in Lebanon, where the government is dominated by the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah militant group, have failed to arrest them.
Hezbollah, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Washington, has denied involvement in the Hariri murder.