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Tribunal postpones start of trial in slaying of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri

A judge at the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon has postponed the start of the landmark trial in absentia of four Hezbollah fighters charged in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The decision is a major setback for efforts to prosecute the Feb. 14, 2005, bombing that killed Hariri, one of the Middle East's most notorious assassinations.

Judge Daniel Fransen says the proposed March 25 start date cannot go ahead because prosecutors have not yet disclosed all evidence to defense attorneys for the suspects.

The court said in a statement Thursday that not giving the defendants enough time to prepare "would be in violation of the most basic right of the accused and the principle of fair trial."

No new date was immediately set for the trial.