Lebanon News

STL: Hariri bodyguards’ families recall their despair

BEIRUT: Before Feb. 14, 2005, Ihsan Nasser lived a comfortable life married to a senior security guard of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. “I lived with Talal for eight years,” Nasser told the Special Tribunal for Lebanon trial chamber Thursday, “I had a really good life.

“He didn’t give me any responsibilities. I didn’t have to worry about anything, I had no concerns,” the widow added.

After a massive bomb targeting Hariri claimed the life of her husband in Beirut, the former housewife’s life was turned upside down. Nasser was forced to begin a “new life” along with her two young daughters born in 1998 and 2002.

Her late husband Talal Nasser had dedicated almost 23 years of his life to Hariri, always close by his side, even to his death.

In the hours before the attack, Nasser recalled her husband having been so rushed and preoccupied that he had walked out the front door with his slippers on. After their two young daughters had left for school, Nasser stopped by a flower shop to pick up roses for her husband – a gift for Valentine’s Day.

“The vendor [suggested] a pre-made bouquet. She said they were good flowers, and would last three days if I put them in the fridge,” Nasser recalled. “She was right, they did last for three days.”

Nasser laid the roses intended as a romantic gift on her husband’s grave.

Lead legal representative of victims Peter Haynes guided the widow through the moments following the bombing through to the subsequent years, as her daughters grappled with the consequences of the event.

While Nasser remained collected throughout her testimony, she began to cry recounting the conversation she had with her daughters to explain the death of their father. Watching her children navigate the world without their father would be the heaviest consequence of her husband’s death, she said.

“I made a huge mistake by letting them go to school by themselves [immediately after the bombing],” Nasser said.

The wounds were much too fresh for her young daughters to answer questions about their father in the days immediately following his death, she explained. Sarah, the older of the two daughters, took to skipping classes, feigning health problems to escape curious classmates.

Nevertheless, the family persisted.

In her closing remarks, Nasser repeatedly gave thanks to the Hariri family, saying that current Prime Minister Saad Hariri had “stood by their side all these years,” providing the family with hefty financial aid.

Nada Abdul-Sater Abu Samra, as co-legal representative, concluded the hearings by reading testimonies of victims suffering the loss of Ziad Mohammad Tarraf and Mohammad Hussein Riad Ghalayeeni.

Both were bodyguards of the former prime minister and were also killed in the bombing.

The STL will resume hearings Friday morning.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 08, 2017, on page 2.

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