The annual report details the activities of the Tribunal from 1 March 2018 to 28 February 2019, its objectives for the coming year and highlights the achievements of the four organs: Chambers, Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), Defence Office and Registry.
Chambers report that the trial proceedings in the Ayyash et al. case constituted their main public judicial activities. During the reporting period, the Oneissi Defence presented their case, the Trial Chamber ordered the attendance of one witness under Rule 165 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and most notably the Trial hearings concluded with closing arguments being heard by the Trial Chamber between 11 and 21 September 2018. The report stresses that "the closing arguments affirmed the important and incomparable role the Tribunal plays in ensuring the perpetrators of the 14 February 2005 attack are not shielded by impunity". The Trial Chamber is now reviewing the evidence before it and deliberating as to whether the Prosecution had proven its case against the four Accused beyond reasonable doubt. It also mentions that the precise timing of the judgment will depend upon the complexity of the legal and factual issues subject to the Trial Chamber's confidential deliberations.
The Prosecutor highlights the significant achievements by his Office during this period. Following the conclusion of the evidence, the Prosecution filed a Final Trial Brief and presented its closing arguments in the Ayyash et al. case against the individuals accused of criminal responsibility for the attack against former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The report also gives account of the additional achievements and progress in meeting the broader mandate of the Office of the Prosecutor, which continue far beyond the end of closing submissions; it describes the continued investigations and extensive other work, much of it behind the scenes in relation to all cases within the OTP's jurisdiction, the three connected cases, the assessment of potentially related cases as well as the preparations for potential appellate response to the judgement in the Ayyash et al. case. At the same time, the Office of the Prosecutor is prepared to move forward quickly when the updated confidential indictment is refiled.
The Defence Office reports on its continued operational, financial support as well as legal assistance to the Defence teams in the Ayyash et al. case. In line with its mandate, the Defence Office enables the Defence Counsel and their teams to effectively represent the rights and interests of the accused in ongoing proceedings. Further, The Defence Office in all its sections aims to prepare for any difficulties that might arise from the deliberation phase onwards, for the potential sentencing and appeal phases as well as possible opening of potential new cases. The report notes that on On 8 June 2018, Ms Dorothée Le Fraper du Hellen was appointed to the post of Head of Defence Office of the Tribunal by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Ms Le Fraper du Hellen thereby succeeded Mr François Roux, who held the post of Head of Defence Office from March 2009 to February 2018.
The Registry reports on its ongoing overarching responsibility to provide effective support to the judicial proceedings through providing efficient and customer-oriented administration of the Tribunal, raising awareness on the Tribunal's work and engaging the public, securing continued political, financial and operational support for its work, as well as ensuring a safe and secure work environment and safeguarding the welfare of staff.
STL President Judge Ivana Hrdličková concludes that the STL's focus for the next year is on the judicial deliberations and the preparation of the judgement awaited by the victims of the 14 February 2005 attack, the Lebanese public and the wider international community.
The report is now available on the tribunal's website.