Investigator Gary Platt’s testimony at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Monday addressed activity that occurred in the early hours of Feb. 14, 2005 – the day that Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated. Discussion centered on call data records that have been integral to the prosecution’s case against the five defendants, who are being tried in absentia. Throughout the case, lawyers for the prosecution have used the movement of cell phones attributed to the accused to track the development of the alleged plot leading up to the assassination. Hariri, along with 21 others, was killed in a bomb blast in Downtown Beirut.
Platt is an expert in covert cellular networks. Much of his testimony Monday detailed the possible movements of the Mitsubishi van the prosecution alleges carried the bomb that killed Hariri. Prosecutor Nigel Povoas questioned Platt regarding cellular data attributed to unnamed suspects “Subject 5” and “Subject 7,” making the case that the two subjects guided the truck from south Beirut to the area of the crime scene.
“[The activity of the subjects] is consistent with them transporting the van to the crime scene area,” Platt said, noting the use of a consecutive series of cell towers leading from south Beirut to the area around Parliament.
By process of elimination, those subjects were the only two not in the immediate vicinity of the crime scene on the morning of Feb. 14, Platt said. “Subjects 8 and 9 were around the Parliament during this period; Ayyash was just north of the Parliament,” the expert witness said, referring to another of the accused, Salim Ayyash.
The two remaining members of the so-called Principal Six – the primary members in the supposed assassination team – were located just south of the crime scene. This, Platt said, was “consistent with traveling through the Saint George’s tunnel.”
The tunnel has been important to the prosecution’s case. CCTV footage presented in court showed the Mitsubishi van passing through the tunnel at the same time that the prosecution alleges subjects 5 and 7 were in the same area. “They weren’t necessarily located immediately with the truck,” Platt said, “but rather traveling in tandem.”
The tunnel, Platt said, “gave [the defendants] the opportunity to [store] the van prior to the attack, rather than having the truck sit at the crime scene for an extended period of time.”
Prosecutors believe that the van parked and waited in the tunnel until Hariri’s convoy neared the site of attack, rather than parking near the blast site to avoid suspicion.
The prosecution contends that Subject 7 played a key role in directly guiding and advising the suicide bomber, Povoas said at the end of the session.