The family of a Hezbollah member convicted in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri described Thursday the guilty verdict handed down by a UN-backed tribunal as a \u201cgrave injustice.\u201d\r\nThe comment was the first by relatives of\u00a0Salim Ayyash, who was found guilty as a co-conspirator in five charges linked to his involvement in the suicide truck bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others in a huge blast 15 years ago. It was released in a statement distributed by Hezbollah.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Iran-backed group has consistently denied involvement in Hariri\u2019s killing, calling it a conspiracy against it and has vowed not to hand over any suspects. Ayyash, 56, has been at large and is not likely to serve time. A hearing will be held at a later date to determine his sentence.\r\nIn its verdict Aug. 18, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon convicted Ayyash and acquitted three others of involvement in the assassination, which sent shock waves through the Middle East. The tribunal\u2019s judges also said there was no evidence the leadership of Hezbollah and Syria were involved in the attack.\r\nAyyash\u2019s family, in the statement issued Thursday, said Ayyash, who hails from the southern Lebanese village of Harouf, was a patriot who served in the Civil Defense and was in Saudi Arabia performing a hajj pilgrimage when the crime occurred.\r\n\u201cAll of this refutes this accusation and emphasizes its injustice, weakness and invalidity of the conviction,\u201d it said.