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Hariri's son calls for justice

Saad Hariri said his father "was not martyred by chance."


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Rafik Hariri
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(CNN) -- The son of slain former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri said Saturday his father was a "martyr" and called for an international court to exact justice on his assassins.

"Today, we are not asking for revenge," Saad Hariri said in a videotaped statement from Saudi Arabia. "We are asking for justice. And justice will take its course, its full course, God willing."

"The truth in this case will not die," he said. "Those perpetrators will be pursued and will be punished."

The statement followed the release of a U.N. report that concluded there was "converging evidence" of Lebanese and Syrian involvement in Hariri's February 14 assassination in Beirut. (Full story)

On Friday, U.S. President George W. Bush urged the United Nations to quickly address the findings of the report. (Watch Bush's reaction to the report -- 1:17)

A Bush administration source who spoke on condition of anonymity said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will ask for the United Nations to convene "early next week."

The Security Council already is scheduled to meet Tuesday with the report's author, German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis. (Full story)

Saad Hariri said his father braved many "political assassination attempts" aimed at sabotaging his goal of a Lebanon free of Syrian occupation, including pressure, threats, smear campaigns and "political traps."

"Rafik Hariri, however, continued to refuse to hand over the country to a system of security mandate," he said.

"Rafik Hariri was not martyred by chance. ... He carried, with all the honorable Lebanese, the project of saving Lebanon and reclaiming its sovereignty and freedom over the last few years.

"They failed to assassinate him politically; they assassinated him physically. They wanted, it is said, to sideline him, to take him out of the Lebanese political field. He became dangerous for the mandate system and the hegemony. He was dangerous for the tools to blackmail Lebanon and the Lebanese government."

However, he said, "the killers found out that the project of Rafik Hariri is gaining momentum, and the people who raised the finger of accusation after the crime were not wrong."

The U.N. probe concluded that the bomb used to kill Hariri was detonated above ground and used at least 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of military explosives.

Syrian officials have hotly denied any involvement in Hariri's assassination and have said the report is false and politically motivated.

"It is not a credible report," said Fayssal Mekdad, the Syrian ambassador to the U.N. He said the Syrian government did not hinder the U.N. investigator, but criticized investigators for focusing on "too much politics and less concrete actions."

On Saturday, Syria's foreign minister said his country was an easy target for U.N. investigators.

Speaking at a news conference to refute a U.N. report on Hariri's killing, Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara said just because Syria had a strong military presence in Lebanon did not mean it was involved in the former prime minister's assassination.

Also Saturday, a Syrian Foreign Ministry official denied that Damascus failed to cooperate in the U.N. investigation and said it might allow U.N. investigators to quiz Syrian officials. (Full story)

Five officials named in the U.N. report, including the Syrian president's brother and brother-in-law, were deleted from the final version Thursday -- last-minute changes that apparently were made at the same time Mehlis met with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The names were never meant to make it to the press, but one electronic version of the report showed the deleted names in a margin and the time of day that the changes were made.

Mehlis said Friday he made the changes after learning the U.N. planned to release the report to the news media. The names were only provided by one witness, he said, and he didn't want them presented as fact.

Hariri said he agreed with many of the report's findings and that it would not dilute or harm Lebanon's Arab identity.

He noted that Lebanon was at a crossroads and has an opportunity to move itself forward towards democracy and national unity.

Hariri did not mention the Syrian government specifically. But he did mention the Syrian people and said the Lebanese looked forward to working with them "to serve our national causes and reinforce brotherly relations that are based on honesty and mutual respect."

In an October 12 interview with CNN, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told CNN that any Syrian involved in the plot "would be considered as a traitor and most severely punished."

Hariri's assassination sparked a wave of protests in Beirut that helped lead to Syria's announced withdrawal from the country in April.

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