Saturday, July 2, 2011

INTERPOL urges UN-backed court to authorize entering names of individuals wanted for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri into police databases.

LYON, France - INTERPOL has been cooperating closely with the Special Tribunal of Lebanon (STL), since its formation, to assist in identifying and bringing to justice those responsible for the assassination on 14 February 2005 of Rafiq Hariri, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon.
As part of that cooperation, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has the authority to seek international wanted persons notices (Red Notices) via INTERPOL to apprehend and to prevent the unlawful flight of those wanted for arrest by the STL.
The Special Tribunal of Lebanon also has the authority to request INTERPOL to keep the names of those wanted for arrest confidential, under seal, and made available only to police in INTERPOL's 188 member countries.
Until now, INTERPOL has received no request from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to issue INTERPOL Red Notices or to enter into INTERPOL's databases any information about the individuals wanted for arrest for the assassination of the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri.
In response to any media inquiries on why INTERPOL Red Notices have not been requested and why the identifying data of those wanted for arrest by the STL have not been entered into our databases, INTERPOL will only make the following statement:
"INTERPOL can offer no explanation for why the Registrar of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon would not authorize the disclosure to INTERPOL's 188 member countries of the names, dates of birth and photographs of those wanted for arrest by the Special Tribunal of Lebanon for the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon.
Police cannot arrest, prevent dangerous persons from entering their countries' borders, or prevent their flight from justice of other countries based on information in the media; police require authorization from judicial or other governmental authorities."
INTERPOL's Secretary General, Ronald K. Noble, has stated on many occasions that "the failure to include the names and identifiers of those wanted for arrest in INTERPOL databases increases their ability to cross international borders undetected and to avoid apprehension."
Any media inquiries to INTERPOL concerning those wanted for arrest by the Special Tribunal Lebanon for the assassination of Rafiq Hariri should be directed to the STL itself.
INTERPOL media release  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Indictments by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Press Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 1, 2011

The United States congratulates the Special Tribunal for its hard work on completing this important step. We understand that this is an emotional and significant period for all involved, and we call on all parties to promote calm and continue to respect the Special Tribunal as it carries out its duties in a professional and apolitical manner.
The confirmation of the indictments by the pre-trial judge and their delivery by the Special Tribunal to the Lebanese authorities is an important milestone toward justice and ending a period of impunity for political violence in Lebanon. We call on the Government of Lebanon to continue to meet its obligations under international law to support the Special Tribunal.
The Special Tribunal is an independent judicial entity, established by an agreement between the Lebanese Government and the United Nations in response to a very difficult time in Lebanon's history. Its work is legitimate and necessary. It represents a chance for Lebanon to move beyond its long history of political violence and to achieve the future of peace and stability that the Lebanese people deserve. Those who oppose the Special Tribunal seek to create a false choice between justice and stability. Lebanon, like any country, needs and deserves both.

Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare Welcomes Confirmation of Indictment

Leidschendam, 1 July 2011 The Prosecutor Daniel A. Bellemare welcomes the decision of the Pre-Trial Judge on 28 June 2011 to confirm the indictment that he filed regarding the assassination of former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafiq Hariri on 14 February 2005. This attack resulted in the death of 21 other victims and the injury of at least 230 others.
The Pre-Trial Judge also granted the Prosecutor's request to issue arrest warrants against the persons named in the indictment and asked the Lebanese authorities to execute these warrants.

By order of the Pre-Trial Judge, the content of the confirmation decision and indictment are still confidential and will be made public only when so ordered by the Pre-Trial Judge.
The decision of the Pre-Trial Judge represents an important milestone as it is the first independent judicial review of the work of the Office of the Prosecutor. By confirming the indictment, the Pre-Trial Judge was satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to send the accused to trial. Accused persons are presumed innocent until their guilt is established beyond reasonable doubt before the Trial Chamber of the Tribunal.
The confirmation of the indictment is only a second step in the judicial process. The Office of the Prosecutor's investigations are still ongoing and work continues to be ready for trial. The Prosecutor can submit additional indictments to the Pre-Trial Judge at any stage.
The confirmed indictment is the result of strong teamwork and dedication in the Office of the Prosecutor and countless hours of investigative work. This result could not have been achieved without the support and assistance of the Lebanese authorities.  It reflects, above all, the continued commitment of the Lebanese people to put an end to impunity in Lebanon.
The Prosecutor thanks the Lebanese people and the families of the victims for their patience and hopes that this confirmation will renew their confidence in our resolve to uncover the truth. 
Bringing the accused to justice will require adherence to the rule of law, the continued cooperation of the Lebanese authorities, and support of the international community. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

New York, 30 June 2011 - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on The Special Tribunal for Lebanon

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon has confirmed that an indictment, accompanied by arrest warrants, was delivered this morning to the Prosecutor General to the Supreme Court in Lebanon, Mr Mirza. While the delivery of the indictment and warrants has been publicized, their contents have not been shared with the United Nations.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is an independent court of law established at the request of the Government of Lebanon, with a clear mandate from the United Nations Security Council pursuant to its resolution 1757 (2007). Under resolution 1757, the Lebanese authorities are required to locate, arrest, detain and transfer the accused persons to the Tribunal.

The Secretary-General reiterates his strong support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and for its efforts to uncover the truth and send a message that impunity will not be tolerated. He calls on all states to support the independent judicial process, in particular by cooperating with the Special Tribunal in the execution of the indictment and arrest warrants. The Secretary-General expects the new Government of Lebanon to uphold all of Lebanon's international obligations and to cooperate with the Special Tribunal.

STL Media Advisory - What follows a confirmed indictment?

A confirmed indictment

The confirmation of an indictment does not mean that the person(s) named in the indictment is/are guilty of the crimes of which they are accused. It simply confirms that the case put forward by the Prosecutor has met the burden of proof required at this stage of the process - prima facie evidence. In simple terms this means that if this evidence were presented uncontested at the trial, it would lead to a conviction.

The accused is innocent until proven guilty.

Trials at the STL
One of the great strengths of international tribunals is judicial independence. Trials at the STL will in principle be heard in public before highly experienced and independent judges.  

The trials will be evidence-based and the prosecution must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that an accused committed the crimes he/she are charged with. If an accused person does not have sufficient funds to pay for his/her legal representation, defence lawyers may be paid for by the tribunal.

Arrest warrant

The Pre-Trial Judge, Daniel Fransen, has issued arrest warrant(s) against the person(s) who are accused of the crime(s) set out in the indictment. This is in response to a request by the Prosecutor. There are several reasons for issuing arrest warrant(s), including:
    ensuring the appearance of an accused at the tribunal
    making sure that an accused person does not threaten the continuing investigations or court proceedings
    preventing an accused person from committing a similar crime to that of which he is accused.
The Registrar has submitted the warrant(s) of arrest to the Lebanese authorities. This request may also be sent to relevant international authorities including INTERPOL.

The Lebanese authorities must inform the President of the STL within 30 days after the confirmation of the indictment of the measures the state has taken to arrest the person(s) named in the indictment.

If after these 30 days no individual(s) is/are arrested and if the STL President considers that reasonable attempts to serve the indictment have been made, he may order a public advertisement after consulting the Pre-Trial Judge. The Registrar would then send an advertisement calling on the accused to surrender to the Lebanese authorities for publication in the media.

Initial appearance

When an accused is arrested the Lebanese authorities with the assistance of the STL Registrar, will arrange the transfer of the individual to the detention facilities of the tribunal. He will then make an initial appearance in the STL courtroom to be formally charged. The judges will ensure that:
    the right of the accused to legal representation is respected
    the indictment has been read to the accused in a language he understands and that he understands the charges against him
    the accused has been informed that in this initial appearance he can plead guilty or not guilty to one or more counts. If he does not plea at this initial appearance he will be called upon to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty within seven days
    if the accused fails to enter a plea, the judge will decide whether to enter a plea of not guilty on the accused's behalf

If the accused does not have the money to pay for a lawyer, the Head of the Defence Office will assign counsel to him, for which the tribunal will pay. Equally, if the accused has not chosen a lawyer yet, the Head of the Defence Office may assign him a duty counsel to represent him at the initial appearance.

Proceedings in absentia

The STL has the power to hold trials in absentia (trials that take place without the accused being present). However, the presence of an accused person in the STL courtroom is the best option for all, especially for the accused who will be given the opportunity to present his defence.
If the accused has not been arrested within 30 calendar days of the public advertisements the Pre-Trial Judge can ask the Trial Chamber to initiate in absentia proceedings. The Trial Chamber will then determine whether the accused is trying to avoid trial or if the accused is unable to attend. (See Rule 106 of STL Rules of Procedure and Evidence)

To ensure that a trial in absentia is fair and just many safeguards are included in the STL's rules. The accused would be represented by a counsel appointed by the Head of the Defence Office. If the accused decides to present himself to the tribunal during trial proceedings or at any time after sentencing, he may request a new trial.

Disclosure and preparation for trial

Once these steps have taken place, whether or not the accused has surrendered to the tribunal, has been arrested or has not been found, the Prosecutor has to disclose to the defence copies of the supporting material accompanying the indictment. He will also provide the defence with the statements of all witnesses whom the Prosecutor intends to call to testify at the trial.
At this stage, the Prosecutor can apply to the Trial Chamber to prevent the disclosure of certain information if:
    it may prejudice ongoing or future investigations
    it may cause a risk to the security of witnesses or their families
    it may be contrary to the public interest or the rights of third parties

Preliminary motions
Before the Pre-Trial Judge hands the case file to the Trial Chamber any preliminary motions will be considered. These motions can challenge the jurisdiction of the tribunal, claim defects in the form of the indictment, seek the severance of some counts of the indictment, seek separate trials, or raise objections based on the refusal of a request for the assignment of counsel.

These motions must be presented in writing not later than 30 days after the disclosure of the supporting material to the defence.
Then, the Pre-Trial Judge will implement a working plan and set a tentative date for the start of the proceedings at least four months in advance of trial.

One of the most striking legal features at the STL is the possibility for victims to participate in the proceedings. Participating victims before the STL are not private claimants and they do not have the right to seek compensation from the tribunal. However, the victims could eventually file for damages before a national court on the basis of a judgment by the Tribunal.
Due to the potential impact of victims' participation on proceedings, victims who wish to take part in proceedings must be screened beforehand by the
Pre-Trial Judge. He may:
    exclude persons whose status as a victim is doubtful
    limit the number of victims who may participate in proceedings
    designate one legal representative to act on behalf of multiple victims.

These features are designed to ensure an effective right for victims to take part in the proceedings, whilst at the same time protecting the rights of the accused.

Confirmed indictment submitted to the Lebanese authorities

Leidschendam 30 june 2011 - The Pre-Trial Judge, Daniel Fransen, confirmed an indictment relating to the assassination of Rafiq Hariri and others on 28 June 2011. The indictment and accompanying arrest warrant(s) were transmitted to the Lebanese authorities on 30 June 2011. This announcement follows a declaration by the Lebanese authorities that they have received a confirmed indictment.
The confirmation of the indictment means that Judge Fransen is satisfied that there is prima facie evidence for this case to proceed to trial.  This is not a verdict of guilt and any accused person is presumed innocent unless his or her guilt is established at trial.
At this time, the STL has no comment on the identity or identities of the person or persons named in the indictment. Indeed, Judge Fransen has ruled that the indictment shall remain confidential in order to assist the Lebanese authorities in fulfilling their obligations to arrest the accused.
UN Security Council Resolution 1757 and the provisions of its annexes are clear on the steps that must be taken by the Lebanese authorities. These include the service of the indictment on the accused person or persons, their arrest and detention, as well as their transfer to the STL. 
Under the STL's Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Lebanese authorities have  to report to the STL on the measures that they have taken to arrest the accused, at least within 30 days of the submission of the indictment.
The Prosecutor of the STL submitted an indictment, for review by Judge Fransen, on 17th January 2011 and subsequently amended it three times – on 11th March, 6th May and 10th June 2011 (the latter at the request of the Pre-Trial Judge).