Tuesday, October 17, 2017

STL analyst implies Hezbollah pressure affected witnesses

Oct. 18, 2017 | 12:10 AM
Finbar Anderson| The Daily Star
The defense for Salim Ayyash, one of four accused of involvement in the 2005 bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others, questioned prosecution witness Andrew Donaldson again regarding how he selected evidence to include in prosecution reports.

Media advisory - Appeals Chamber will deliver its ruling on the questions raised by the Pre Trial Judge tomorrow

Leidschendam, 17 October 2017 - The Appeals Chamber scheduled a public hearing to deliver its decision on the Pre-Trial Judge's legal questions on Wednesday, 18 October at 4:30 pm (CET).
The Judges were seized of preliminary questions of law submitted on 11 August 2017 by the Pre-Trial Judge who is currently reviewing an indictment submitted to him confidentially by the Prosecutor.
The questions of law relate to the material (actus reus) and the intentional (mens rea) elements of the crime of criminal association, the distinctive elements between criminal association and conspiracy and the criteria for reviewing the indictment.
The Appeals Chamber concluded its deliberations after receiving written and oral submissions from the Prosecution and the Defence Office.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Media Advisory - Appeals Chamber schedules public hearing on 11 October 2017

Leidschendam, 14 September 2017. A hearing will take place on Wednesday 11 October 2017 at 9.30 am C.E.T, according to a scheduling order issued yesterday by the STL Appeals Chamber.

The Appeals Chamber's hearing will provide the Prosecutor and Head of the Defence Office an opportunity to make oral submissions on the legal questions raised by the Pre Trial Judge, who is currently reviewing a confidential indictment filed for confirmation. During this process, he found necessary that the Appeals Chamber clarifies certain aspects of the applicable law.

The questions concern the crime of criminal association as defined in Article 335 of the Lebanese Criminal Code and the criteria for reviewing the indictment.

The hearing will start with opening remarks by the President of the Appeals Chamber, Judge Ivana Hrdličková. The Prosecutor will then be invited to make his oral submissions, followed by the Head of the Defence Office.

After hearing the parties, the Appeals Chamber will render its interlocutory decision in due course.

Important note to the journalists: Accreditation is mandatory for the media who wish to attend the hearing. Please fill in the accreditation form before Monday 9 October 2017, 17.30 C.E.T

Background information:

  1. Rule 68 (G) of STL Rules of Procedure and Evidence provides that "the Pre Trial Judge may submit to the Appeals Chamber any preliminary question, on the interpretation of the Agreement, statute and Rules regarding the applicable law, that he deems necessary in order to examine and rule on an indictment.
  2. Rule 176 (bis) states that the Appeals Chamber shall issue an interlocutory decision on any question raised by the Pre Trial Judge under Rule 68 (G) without prejudging the rights of any accused. The Appeals Chamber is also mandated to hear the views of the Prosecutor and the Head of the Defence Office in a public session.

Please note that the content of the indictment remains confidential and will not be discussed during the hearing. Its contents may only become public if the indictment is confirmed by the Pre-Trial Judge.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Victim's daughter testifies at Lebanon assassination trial

BY MIKE CORDER Associated Press AUGUST 28, 2017 12:24 PM
A woman whose father died in the 2005 bombing that killed Lebanon's former prime minister and 21 others testified in court Monday about her frantic days hunting for traces of him after the explosion as her hopes of finding her father alive ebbed away.

Lama Ghalayini was the first of seven witnesses expected to testify before the Netherlands-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon over the next two weeks at the marathon trial in absentia of four suspects in the attack in Beirut.

The suspects are members of the Hezbollah militant group, which denies involvement in former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination. One of those originally indicted, Hezbollah military commander Mustafa Badreddine, was killed in Syria in 2016.

The trial started in January 2014 and prosecutors have so far presented more than 230 witnesses. The suspects have not been arrested and were not in the United Nations-backed court, but lawyers are representing them.

People injured by the bomb and relatives of those killed are being given the opportunity to tell the tribunal about how the attack affected their lives and by extension, its broader impact on Lebanese society.

Ghalayini said she suffered depression and post-traumatic stress after the death of her father, Abdul-Hameed Mohammed Ghalayini.

"I wish this day could be erased from the calendar," she said of the Feb. 14, 2005 blast. "I think it is the only thing that really could relieve me."

Speaking by video link from Beirut, Ghalayini said she and her family scoured hospitals and a morgue and used sniffer dogs to no avail. Her father's remains were recovered more than two weeks later, lying face down under a shallow layer of sand.

Ghalayini was critical of Lebanese authorities for not doing more to help her family in the hunt for her father, who was killed while taking his daily walk along Beirut's seafront.

His daughter was not in Lebanon at the time of the bombing, but said she heard the explosion while she was speaking by phone to a company in Beirut. She flew home as soon as she could.

"It was horrible to see the scene of the explosion and just imagine where my father could have been," she said through an interpreter. "It was really a shock for me."

At the end of her testimony, Ghalayini told judges she hoped the perpetrators eventually will be brought to justice.

"I will never rest until the criminals are prosecuted," she said.

Victims’ case in the Ayyash et al. trial begins

Leidschendam, 28 August 2017 – Today in the Ayyash et al. case, the Legal Representatives of 72 Victims Participating in the Proceedings began presenting evidence on the victims' behalf.

This marks the first time that victims of terrorism have presented their case before an international tribunal.

The Legal Representatives anticipate that the presentation of evidence on behalf of the victims (victims' case) will continue until 8 September 2017 and consist of live testimonies and the tendering into evidence of witness statements and documents. The Legal Representatives will present evidence about the harm that the victims have suffered collectively and individually.

One victim testified today via video conference.

The proceedings can be followed on the STL website with a 30-minute delay in Arabic, English and French.

For more information on victims' rights at the STL, please click here. Frequently asked questions on victim participation before the STL are also available here.

Background information:

On 14 February 2005, an explosion occurred near the St. Georges Hotel in downtown Beirut, so powerful that it left a crater at least ten metres wide and two metres deep in the street.

That explosion killed 22 people, including former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Many others suffered physical and psychological injuries from the blast, lost loved ones on that day, or suffered financial loss.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon was established to bring those responsible for this crime to justice, and to bring justice to the victims of the 14 February attack and connected acts of terrorism.
Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra stand accused of various crimes under Article 2 of the STL Statute and the Lebanese Criminal Code for their alleged role as co-conspirators in that attack.

The Legal Representative of Victims (LRV) is assigned to represent the views and concerns of the participating victims in Prosecutor v. Ayyash et al. You can learn more about the role of the LRV on the STL's YouTube channel.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Trial Chamber scheduled the presentation of the victims’ case for the week of 28 August 2017

Leidschendam, 02 August 2017 – The Trial Chamber at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has tentatively scheduled the presentation of the victims' case for the week of 28 August 2017 in a Decision on the Legal Representatives of Victims' Application to Call Evidence, Schedule the Presentation of Evidence and Directions on Disclosure Obligations (LRV) filed on Monday 31 July 2017. 
In its decision, the Trial Chamber authorized seven victims and a non-victim witness (Professor Dr Rianne Letschert, a victimologist) to testify in court.The Trial Chamber also deferred deciding whether another non-victim (Dr Fares Souaid) may testify pending receipt of his witness statement or report, granted the LRVs' application to add four witnesses to their witness list, as submitted on 10 May, and authorized the LRVs to submit for admission into evidence statements of 23 witnesses and any documents they may wish. Based on the decision, the LRVs are also authorized to request the admission into evidence of documents supporting proposed agreed facts between the LRVs and the Parties concerning the deaths, injuries and harms suffered as a result of the explosion in Beirut on 14 February 2005.
"The Trial Chamber's decision marks an important milestone for the STL: it will be the first time since the Ayyash et al. trial commenced that we will hear evidence from participating victims in the proceedings and their views on how the 14 February attack has impacted their lives", said Peter Haynes, Legal Representative of Victims (LRV)]. He added that "the testimony would relate to the personal experiences of the victims, various types of harm suffered due to the attack and by extension the collective harm suffered, not just of the individuals who have chosen to participate, but the victims generally, and the wider societal, cultural and economic impact of the events upon the Lebanese people." 
The presentation of the victims' evidence will be interposed before the formal close of the Prosecutor's case.  In an application filed on 3 May 2017, the LRVs estimated that their presentation of evidence would take approximately two weeks of court time.
Seventy-two (72) victims are participating in the Ayyash et al. trial proceedings and are represented by their own dedicated legal team responsible for presenting the victims' views and concerns before the Trial Chamber. 
Background information:
1. On 3 May 2017, the LRVs filed an application seeking to be authorized to present the victims' case. They requested to call 10 viva voce witnesses and to present the evidence of a further 23 witnesses in written form.  The LRVs intend to call non-victim witnesses to provide observations on the suffering of victims. These witnesses are Professor Dr Rianne Letschert, a victimologist and Dr Fares Souaid, a medical surgeon, political observer and former Lebanese Member of Parliament who may—if authorised by the Trial Chamber—testify about the political background and the chain of events that preceded and followed the assassination of Rafik Hariri. In addition, the witness will speak, as a physician, about the humanitarian and psychological problems and pain of the victims.
2. At the commencement of the trial in the Prosecutor vs. Ayyash et al. on 17 January 2014, the Legal Representatives of Victims made their opening statements. The video records are available here

Thursday, July 20, 2017

STL Registrar meets Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri

Leidschendam, 20 July 2017 - Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) Registrar Daryl Mundis met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri during a working visit to Lebanon this week.

"This visit allowed me to inform the Prime Minister of the latest developments in the STL's work and thank him for the Lebanese Government's continued cooperation with the Tribunal," said Mr Mundis. "Lebanon's support is critical to ensuring that the STL fulfils its mandate in a timely and fair manner."

The Registrar travels to Beirut regularly to update key interlocutors on the STL's activities and to oversee its work in Lebanon. He is responsible for all aspects of the STL's administration, including the budget, fundraising, human resources and providing security. His responsibilities also include court management, the oversight of the Victims' Participation Unit, witness protection and language services.


Background: Update on the Ayyash et al. Trial

The STL's main case, Prosecutor v. Ayyash et al., concerns the 14 February 2005 attack in Beirut that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others. The trial commenced on 16 January 2014. The Prosecution is nearing the end of the presentation of its case.

So far, it has presented forensic evidence on the cause of the explosion of 14 February 2005 and evidence related to the death and injury of the victims of this attack. It has also presented evidence of the preparatory acts undertaken by the Accused and their co-conspirators in 2004-2005 to prepare for the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri. It is currently presenting evidence concerning the identity of the Accused and their respective roles in the attack.
Following the conclusion of the Prosecution's case, the Legal Representative of Victims and the Defence teams will have the opportunity to present their respective cases.