The trial of five men accused of plotting the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri began Thursday, nearly nine years after his death, dpa reported.
Hariri and 22 other people were killed in the February 14, 2005, attack, which many have linked to Syria. It caused unrest across Lebanon and ultimately led to a diminishing of Syrian influence in the country.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, based outside The Hague, was set up specifically to investigate the 2005 attack. It will be the first international court case related to an incident of international terrorism.
All five defendants are Lebanese citizens. Another man also alleged to be involved in the plot died in the attack. However, all of the men are fugitives, which makes the proceedings the first international tribunal case in which none of the accused are present.
Hariri's son, former prime minister Saad Hariri; Deputy House Speaker Farid Makari; parliamentarian Marwan Hamadeh, who survived a 2007 car bombing; and parliamentarian Sami Gemayel, whose brother was killed in Beirut in 2006, were present at the opening session.
Saad Hariri told the families of the victims, who will also be in the court, that "the opening of the tribunal is a historic day as it opens a new page for justice in Lebanon."