Former Lebanon Prime Minister’s Assassin Sentenced to Life in Prison in Absentia
Salim Jamil Ayyash, the man convicted in August of the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, was sentenced to five terms of life imprisonment by a special Lebanese tribunal on Friday. Ayyash, who was tried in absentia and is still at large, was found guilty of killing Hariri and committing a terrorist act, after his 2005 bombing in Beirut led to the deaths of the former prime minister and 21 others, and the injury of over 220 people. The court, operating from The Hague, reserved harsh words for the Lebanese Hizbullah organization, regarded by the European Union, the United States and Israel as a terrorist group and believed to be behind the assassination. “In my view, a strong inference is available from [Hizbullah’s public support for Ayyash] as to who has been shielding him from justice for all of these years,” the presiding judge wrote. Hariri’s assassination sent Lebanon into what was then its worst crisis in decades, setting off years of confrontation between rival political and sectarian factions.