Oct 18, 2014

Another survivor from Mr. Hariri's convoy: Mr. Dia

The subsequent witness on 16 and 17 October was Mr. Mohammed Jamal Dia, another survivor from Mr. Hariri's convoy that was attacked on 14 February 2005, and he was sitting in the same car as the previous witness, Mr. Chehadeh (see here for our blog post on his testimony). The witness was the person in charge in that particular car at that day and he was specifically assigned to be on the lookout. He states he saw nothing out of the ordinary on that day.

Mr. Dia was a close protection officer for Mr. Hariri, having worked for the Hariri family since 1984. He would travel abroad with Mr. Hariri when required to do so. The witness describes the motorcade of Mr. Hariri, including the ISF (Internal Security Forces) jeep in front, the Mercedes that Mr. Hariri drove in, the ambulance at the back of the convoy and several other cars. This witness is also questioned about the jamming devices. When he was Prime Minister, the convoy had been much more extensive than afterwards. Also, when he was still Prime Minister, usually ahead of the convoy there would be an ISF reconnaissance drive to explore the area; this no longer happened when Mr. Hariri was no longer Prime Minister.

Regarding the jammers, the witness recalls on the 14th of February 2005, the day of the explosion, that the son of Mr. Hariri had tried to call him, but had failed to reach him due to the active jamming devices. This evidence is based on hearsay, the witness heard this four or five hours later, when he was at Quraitem Palace. 

On the second day of his testimony, the witness is asked about his (unnamed) colleague who was unexpectedly absent from work on 14 February 2005, due to migraine, from which he sometimes suffered. That day, Mr. Dia was sitting in the car next to the previous witness, Mr. Chehadeh, who was driving the vehicle. After the explosion, Mr. Dia lost his consciousness for a few minutes. After he regained his consciousness, he stepped out of the car. He saw a person lying on the ground, and he was able to identify that person as Mr. Hariri; he could identify him by his wedding ring, and he does not remember seeing his face, and it was clear that he had passed away. 

After the incident, the witness stayed at home for three months to rest. He is cross-examined by defence counsel Mr. Edwards for defendant Mr. Badreddine. Mr. Edwards asks the witness whether there was a debriefing after the attack. The witness denies this, but seems to have suggested something different in an earlier statement Mr. Dia made to the UNIIIC (UN commission investigating the assassination prior to the existence of the STL). In his earlier statement to the UNIIIC, the witness had mentioned authorization documents issued by Rustom Ghazaleh, the head of the Syrian security in Lebanon. When confronted with that information, the witness no longer recalls this information. 

The witness is then shown a security document, a laissez-passer, issued by Syria to Lebanese security personnel, belonging to (protected) witness PRH247. The witness confirms that such documents are very common in Lebanon. About the value of such cards, he states that they have no value, but some people like to have them, others don't.  The witness does not recall ever having been offered such a document, and he never obtained one. 

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