Beirut (Reuters) – Lebanon’s Hezbollah on Friday denied that five men accused by a military tribunal of killing an Irish U.N. peacekeeper in 2022 were linked to the armed Shi’ite group.
A court document filed on Thursday had identified some of the five as members of Hezbollah and allied movement Amal, according to a senior Lebanese judicial source.
Hezbollah media official Mohammad Afif said the five accused were not members of the group, which controls the part of southern Lebanon where last year’s attack took place, and also denied that the indictment had described them as Hezbollah members.
Private Sean Rooney, 23, was killed on Dec. 15 in the first fatal attack on U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon since 2015.
Afif said Hezbollah had played a big role after the killing in reducing tensions and in local people’s cooperation with the army and judicial investigation.
His comments are the first by a Hezbollah official since Thursday’s reported indictment. The Amal Movement, which is headed by Lebanon’s parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, has so far declined to comment.
The judicial source had said evidence was drawn from camera recordings in which the accused refer to themselves as members of Hezbollah. A second judicial source confirmed that camera evidence was mentioned in the 30-page court document.
Hezbollah has previously denied involvement in the killing, calling it an “unintentional incident” that took place solely between the town’s residents and the UNIFIL peacekeeping force.