January 2, 2015 / 6:28 PM / 3 years ago

U.N. extends mandate of tribunal trying Hariri bomb suspects

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives a speech during the opening of the High Level Segment of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in Lima, December 9, 2014. REUTERS/ Mariana Bazo

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday extended for three years the mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which was set up to investigate and try suspects in a 2005 bomb blast that killed Lebanese statesman Rafik al-Hariri and 21 others.

The trial, before an international tribunal in The Hague, is being watched closely in Lebanon, where many hope it could help end a culture of impunity that has sustained decades of political violence in the deeply divided country.

The U.N. press office said in a statement the new mandate for the tribunal will begin on March 1. It said five accused have been indicted over the killing. The trial in absentia began in January 2014 and is continuing.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon was set up after Hariri’s killing with the support of the United Nations and the then-Lebanese government to investigate the events surrounding the assassination, which brought the country back to the brink of civil war.

Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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