Lebanon: prosecutor charges Islamic group members in Hariri assassination

The Lebanese prosecutor-general has lodged charges against two brothers who were prominently mentioned in a U.N. probe into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, judicial officials reported Wednesday.

The case against the pair, Ahmad and Mahmoud Abdel-Al, who are both members of the fundamentalist Al-Ahbash pro-Syrian Sunni Muslim organization, was referred to Magistrate Elias Eid who is in charge of the case.

Mahmoud Abdel-Al was detained in Beirut Saturday on the recommendation of the U.N. investigators, who said he made "interesting" telephone calls on Feb. 14, including one to pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, minutes before the blast that killed Hariri. Lahoud's office has denied receiving such a call.

The U.N. inquiry report, made public last week, also said that shortly after the blast Abdel-Al also contacted one of four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals, arrested in late August for their alleged roles in the murder.

Mahmoud's brother, Ahmad Abdel-Al was named by chief U.N. investigator Detlev Mehlis as a "key figure" in the ongoing investigation.

According to the report, Ahmad Abdel-Al had extensive contacts with top Lebanese security officials before and after the blast, and tried to hide information from investigators. He was recently arrested in Beirut and charged in connection with a weapons depot discovered in southern Lebanon in July.

The charges against the Abdel-Al brothers were preliminary and meant to keep them in custody until the investigation is concluded, said the judicial officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to reporters, reported AP. P.T.

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