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Obama Welcomes First Indictment In Hariri Case

Outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri
U.S. President Barack Obama says he welcomes the first indictment filed in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Obama called the indictment by a UN tribunal an important step toward ending the era of impunity for murder in Lebanon and achieving justice for its people.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said those who oppose the Special Tribunal for Lebanon "seek to create a false choice between justice and stability in Lebanon."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reaffirmed his "strong support" for the work of the tribunal, saying the filing of the indictment "is in pursuit of its mandate to end impunity for the terrible crimes" that killed Hariri and 22 others.

The contents of the draft indictment were not revealed and may not become public for weeks as Belgian Judge Daniel Fransen decides whether there is enough evidence for a trial.

The indictment, confirmed by the international court's headquarters in The Hague, is the latest turn in a deepening political crisis in Lebanon, where Hizballah toppled the Western-backed government last week in a dispute over the tribunal.

The court is widely expected to accuse members of Hizballah of being involved in the killing, something the Shi'ite militant group has insisted it will not accept.

There are fears that the process could ignite new bloodshed nearly six years after the massive truck bombing along Beirut's waterfront.

compiled from agency reports