The Hezbollah chief said the group was not concerned about a United Nations-backed court verdict on the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri, scheduled for August 18.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is expected to deliver its verdict on Tuesday to four suspects, all of whom were tried in absentia and are suspected members of Hezbollah.
“We do not feel concerned by the decisions of the STL,” group leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Friday.
“For us, it will be as if no decision has ever been announced,” he said. “If our brothers are unjustly condemned, as we expect, we will maintain their innocence.”
Nasrallah has repeatedly expressed similar views, completely rejecting the competence and independence of the Netherlands-based tribunal.
The son of the assassinated former prime minister, Saad Hariri, himself a former prime minister in Lebanon, is due in The Hague for the verdict.
The four defendants were tried in 2014 on counts including the “intentional homicide” of Rafic Hariri and 21 others, the attempted homicide of 226 people injured in the 2005 bombing that killed Hariri and the conspiracy to commit a “terrorist” act.
Nasrallah warned that “some will try to exploit the STL to target the resistance and Hezbollah”, but urged his supporters to be “patient” when the verdict is announced.
Observers have voiced fears that the verdict, however it is passed, could spark violence in the streets of Lebanon between supporters of Hezbollah and Hariri.
Hezbollah demands unity government
Nasrallah also called for the formation of a government of national unity in Lebanon, days after the cabinet resigned amid the fury of the devastating August 4 explosion in Beirut that killed some 200 people.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government resigned on Monday following the explosion, largely blamed on the negligence and corruption of the country’s ruling class.
In his second speech since the explosion, Nasrallah dismissed the idea of a “neutral government” as a “waste of time” for a country where power and influence are distributed across religious sects.
“We don’t believe that there are neutrals [candidates] in Lebanon for us to form a [neutral] government, ”Nasrallah said.
Instead, the Hezbollah leader called for a model of government that has lasted for years, despite protracted political and economic crises and demands for change.
“We call for attempts to form a government of national unity, and if that is not possible, then a government that ensures the widest possible representation for politicians and experts,” Nasrallah said.
“We call for a strong government, a capable government, a politically protected government,” he said.
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