Reports continue to indicate that the United Nations tribunal investigating the 2005 car-bomb assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is poised to indict several Hizballah members before year's end.
A CBC documentary which aired this week offers insights into the investigation's sometimes troubled path and offers a pessimistic assessment of whether anyone will be brought to justice as a result.
Reporter Neil Macdonald interviewed a half-dozen sources tied to the tribunal, finding that a Lebanese security official considered a suspect was never fully investigated. And he spotlights the detective work by Lebanese police Capt. Wissam Eid. Working independently, Eid compiled a database of all cellular telephone use in Beirut in the weeks leading up to the bombing. He identified a core group of "red phones" belonging to members of a hit squad that had been tracking Hariri's movements.
"Eid's work would also lead to another discovery: Everything connected, however elliptically, to land lines inside Hezbollah's Great Prophet Hospital in South Beirut, a sector of the city entirely controlled by the Party of God," Macdonald reports.
A Hizballah official called Eid directly, telling him the telephones he identified were part of an effort to track Israeli spies "and that he needed to back off," Macdonald reports.
Tribunal officials lost their copy of Eid's work, which then was ignored for two years. They finally met with him in January 2008 and were impressed by his work. Eight days later, he was killed in a car-bombing.
UN officials reacted angrily to Macdonald's disclosures, saying they could have placed people at risk. They didn't say the stories were incorrect. That may have as much to do with the fact that sources inside the investigation criticized it for being at times timid and poorly managed.
There are concerns that Hizballah might react violently to any indictments. With the future uncertain, Macdonald's reporting stands out for its detail and the quality of its sourcing. It's worth reading and viewing as an objective assessment of what happened in the murder of Hariri and 22 others in 2005, and why, five years later, nothing has been done. See the CBC stories here.