Iran's Ayatollah Khamanei: Any Hariri Tribunal Findings Are ‘Null and Void’

Hezbollah members expected to be indicted for 2005 murder of former Lebanon PM, sparking fears of slide back into sectarian violence.

TEHRAN - Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday any findings by an international tribunal into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri would be invalid.

"This tribunal is a rubber-stamp one whose verdict is null and void whatever it is," state television quoted Khamenei as saying during a meeting with the emir of Qatar.

Iran is a supporter of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi'ite group which says the tribunal is a tool of Israel aimed at discrediting it by blaming its members for Hariri's murder.

Hezbollah and Western diplomats say they expect members of the group to be indicted. Lebanese politicians fear a crisis, and possible relapse into sectarian violence if that happens.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Rafiq's son, visited Iran in November seeking its help seeking to prevent political tensions.

Khamenei, the most powerful figure in the Islamic Republic, said: "I hope parties with influence involved in Lebanon will act on the basis of intelligence and wisdom so that this [tribunal outcome] does not become problematic."

Hezbollah, which is part of Lebanon's unity government, has repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing and. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has said he will not allow the arrest of any of its members.

A trial could not start before next September, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has said.