Special Tribunal for Lebanon delays verdict after Beirut blast

The long-running case was due to issue a ruling on Friday

The flag flies at half staff outside the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, in Leidschendam, the Netherlands, Wednesday Aug. 5, 2020, following Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut. Experts and video footage suggest that fireworks and ammonium nitrate were the fuel that ignited a massive explosion that rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)
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The Special Tribunal for Lebanon has postponed issuing the verdict in the killing of former prime minister Rafik Hariri due on Friday due to the massive blast in Beirut earlier this week.

The court based outside The Hague said on Wednesday that it was pushing the session to announce the verdict in the trial of four Hezbollah operatives for the 2005 killing until August 18.

"The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic events that shook Lebanon yesterday. The Tribunal expresses its solidarity with the Lebanese people in these difficult times," the court said in a statement. The court added that the delay was "out of respect for the countless victims of the devastating explosion that shook Beirut on 4 August, and the three-day of public mourning in Lebanon."

The long-running case into the former Lebanese leader’s murder in a massive car bomb that also killed 21 others in downtown Beirut on February 14, 2005, was finally due to wrap up.

However, the delay was announced after a massive blast caused – the government believes – by a fire igniting tonnes of ammonium nitrate ripped through Lebanon on Tuesday afternoon, damaging up to half the city, making 300,000 homeless and killing at least 113 people. At least 4,000 have been wounded.

The four suspects are being tried in absentia and Hezbollah does not recognise the court or the proceedings.