BEIRUT: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon announced Monday that it had halted legal proceedings against deceased Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine in the trial of the assassination of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Badreddine was killed in an attack in Syria in May which Hezbollah attributed to militant groups.
“Having considered the submissions of the parties and the legal representative of victims, the Appeals Chamber ... directs the Trial Chamber to terminate the proceedings against Mr. Mustafa Amine Badreddine,” a document released by The Hague-based STL said.
It added that proceedings will resume should future evidence find that the defendant is still alive.
Badreddine, who was Hezbollah’s top commander in Syria, was one of five party members on trial over the 2005 blast that killed Hariri along with 21 others in Ain al-Mreisseh.
The STL had been placed on hold until an appeals chamber ruled whether sufficient evidence existed to establish the death of Badreddine.
He was one of the founders of Hezbollah in 1982 and had assumed a leading role in the group’s military wing after the killing of his brother-in-law Imad Mughniyeh in February 2008 in an operation in Syria.
Badreddine was sentenced to death in Kuwait for his role in bomb attacks there in 1983. He escaped from prison in Kuwait after Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, invaded the Gulf country in 1990.
The U.S. Treasury statement said Badreddine had accompanied Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah during strategic coordination meetings with President Bashar Assad in Damascus.
For years, Badreddine masterminded military operations against Israel and managed to escape capture by Arab and Western governments by operating clandestinely. He was wounded in a battle with Israeli forces near Beirut during Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon.