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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 22:56 GMT
UN council backs Hariri tribunal
Rafik Hariri
The UN has been investigating Mr Hariri's murder since last February
The UN Security Council has approved plans for an international tribunal to try suspects in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Last week, Lebanon's cabinet endorsed the plans, despite the resignations of six pro-Syrian ministers opposed to it.

A UN inquiry has implicated Syria in the killing in February 2005, although Syria has denied involvement.

The council also unanimously condemned the killing on Tuesday of anti-Syrian Lebanese minister, Pierre Gemayel.

Mr Gemayel, a Maronite Christian leader, was shot dead by gunmen in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

Political divisions

The council's move paves the way for what would be the first time an international court deals with a political crime that targeted a specific person.

The former Lebanese prime minister, a self-made billionaire, was killed on 14 February 2005, along with 20 others in a massive blast on Beirut's seafront.

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Lebanon's pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud has said the cabinet's decision to back the tribunal plan was not legitimate because the resignation of the six ministers meant it no longer represented all religious groups as required by Lebanon's constitution.

The plan must now be approved by the Lebanese parliament, where an anti-Syrian majority is locked in a power struggle with the pro-Syrian opposition.

It must also be ratified by Mr Lahoud.

The latest draft of the tribunal plan has not been made public, but it is thought that the tribunal would sit outside Lebanon, possibly in Cyprus.

The tribunal's statutes would rely on a mixture of Lebanese and international law - both Lebanese and foreign judges would sit on it.

A UN investigation into Mr Hariri's death is continuing and is due to issue a report on 15 December.




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