|Saad Hariri said it was wrong to blame Syria in father’s death.|
BEIRUT — Lebanon’s Western-backed prime minister made a startling reversal yesterday and said it was a mistake to accuse Syria of the massive 2005 truck bombing that killed his father, saying the charge was politically motivated.
The accusations by anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians that quickly followed the killing of former prime minister Rafik Hariri galvanized hundreds of thousands of their supporters to take to the streets in a powerful protest movement. It drove tens of thousands of Syrian troops out of Lebanon and ended decades of Syrian domination over its smaller neighbor.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who has been working recently to mend ties with Syria, says the determination of who killed his father should be made by the international tribunal investigating the crime.
In the months after his father’s death, Hariri accused Damascus of direct responsibility for killing his father and several anti-Syrian officials and journalists. Rafik Hariri, a billionaire businessman and political leader, had been trying to limit Syria’s domination of Lebanon in the months before his death.
“This was a political accusation, and this political accusation has ended,’’ Hariri told the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. “I don’t know what will be in the indictment and I cannot intervene in that, nobody can. All that I ask for is the truth and justice.’’
Though more than five years has passed since the killing that shook Lebanon, there is no international consensus on who was behind it.
A Netherlands-based UN tribunal has been set up to try those responsible for Hariri’s killing but has not yet named any individuals or countries as suspects.