Dormant for years, the digital “truth” ticker has been reactivated on the upper right of the Rafik Hariri billboard above. It has been marked as day 1 in line with the start of the long-awaited trial in the Hague today, investigating his assassination.

The billboard had originally gone up shortly after the former prime minister’s murder in February 2005 and had read “The Truth.” The digital clock was soon added, with the aim of counting the days until Hariri’s killers were brought to justice. Years went by and the counting went into the thousands, prompting the somewhat embarrassing addition of a different size screen to compensate for additional zeros. A few years ago, the digital clock was removed altogether.

Now the text on the billboard has been changed from “The Truth” to “Era of Justice.” It also appears that the original 3-digit screen has been replaced with a 4 digit one. Will it lead to anything this time? And can justice really be served in a state where most of the incumbent politicians are pardoned war criminals?

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Habib Battah
Habib Battah is an investigative journalist and founder of the news site beirutreport.com. Battah has covered Lebanon and the Middle East for over 15 years and teaches journalism and media studies at the American University of Beirut. He is a contributor to Monocle, The Guardian, BBC World, Al Jazeera and others, a former fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University and two-time recipient of the Samir Kassir Press Freedom Award. Battah's investigative work was recently recognized for outstanding local reporting by the Columbia University Oakes Award for Environmental Reporting. Battah earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.A. in Near East Studies and Journalism from New York University.

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