Lebanon News

Hariri was watched from nearby: Platt

BEIRUT: Covert cellular phone networks investigator Gary Platt returned to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon again Friday to present evidence of how telecoms data demonstrated suspects surveilling former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in the lead up to his assassination. The testimony Friday focused on a two day period between Feb. 2, and Feb. 3, 2005, that appeared to indicate a scoping mission ahead of a meeting on Feb. 3 between Hariri and then-deputy premier Issam Fares.

Platt contended that phone calls made on the second day of the period placed suspects in the assassination plot meters away from the former prime minister and deputy prime minister at the St. Georges Yacht Club in Beirut.

“In my opinion, [the phone calls were made] to identify suitable surveillance locations ... so while they have conducted surveillance [at St. Georges Yacht Club] before, this [meeting] was different because Mr. Hariri was going to be static for some time,” Platt said.

According to telecoms records, the phone calls made on the evening of Feb. 2 were between an unnamed subject and indicted suspect Salim Ayyash on so-called “blue network” phones.

Platt backed up his opinion by discussing call records made by “red network” phones in the vicinity of the St. Georges Yacht Club on Feb. 3, 2005.

“[Red network] phones were active for a few hours before Hariri’s presence there. So I believe that they obtained information that he was going to attend the marina and have this meeting ... immediately after Mr. Hariri leaves marina areas, funnily enough, all the phones leave the area as well,” Platt said.

The prosecution contends that conspirators orchestrated the plot through the use of several color-coded, covert groups of phones. The “red network” has been labeled by the prosecution as the operational team whose members followed Hariri, surveilled his daily movements and ultimately carried out the attack that killed the ex-premier and 21 others. The “blue network” has been designated as the logistical support of the “red network” and the “green network” allegedly served as the command and control operations of the entire conspiracy.

Via PowerPoint, the investigator demonstrated heavy “red network” activity with some scattered “blue network” and “green work” activity for several hours in the vicinity of Hariri’s meeting at the St. Georges Yacht Club on the Friday in question in question, just ten days before the assassination.

Platt claimed that such concentrated activity of the three phone networks next to Hariri indicated that major players of the assassination were present in the area on that day. The STL will take a 10 day break, returning on March 6, 2017.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 25, 2017, on page 2.

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