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The STL tries to reconstruct official version of Rafik Hariri’s assassination


On 19 October 2010, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), based near The Hague, attempted to re-enact the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, five years after the event.

Unlike the name suggests, the STL is not a judiciary entity and is not akin to any of the other United Nations tribunals. As pointed out at the time by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the TSL is a "conventional organ" without historical precedent, which was created on the basis of an agreement between the United Nations and the Lebanese government (as distinct from the Lebanese state).

Considering the means at its disposal, the STL carried out the test explosion on a vast shooting range.

The STL wanted to demonstrate that, contrary to the near-unanimous opinion of explosives experts, it is possible for an explosive-packed truck to cause the material damage that was observed in Beirut. To that end, the STL reconstructed the exact replica of the crime scene on the French military base in Captieux, near Bordeaux, including identical vehicles. The equivalent of 2,5 tons of TNT were used to test whether the confinement effect of the surrounding buildings on the explosion can dig a crater in the ground and send cars flying through the air.

Officials said the results would be kept confidential.

According to the prosecutor’s version, the attack was carried out by means of a truck charged with at least 1,8 tons of explosives that were detonated by a suicide bomber when he intercepted Rafik Hariri’s armored car. However, what remains to be explained is how a surface explosion in an open space can account for such a deep crater in the ground.

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