Friday, August 19, 2011

Pre-Trial Judge rules on connected cases

Leidschendam, 19 August 2011 – The Tribunal has established jurisdiction over three attacks relating to Marwan Hamadeh, George Hawi and Elias El-Murr.  The Pre-Trial Judge has also ordered that the Lebanese authorities provide the relevant files to the Prosecutor.
On 30 June 2011, Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen received a request from the Office of the Prosecutor to determine whether or not these cases are connected to the attack of 14 February 2005. Judge Fransen ruled confidentially on 5 August that the Prosecutor had presented prima facie evidence that each of the three cases are connected, and are thus within the Tribunal's jurisdiction.
Judge Fransen has today issued three deferral orders requesting the Lebanese judiciary to comply within the next 14 working days. The Pre-Trial Judge authorises the Prosecution to share his confidential decision on the connected cases with the Lebanese authorities.
The decision on connectedness otherwise remains confidential so as not to compromise the investigation, and to protect the victims and potential witnesses.
According to the Tribunal's Statute, a case is connected to the 14 February 2005 attack if it is of a "similar nature and gravity" and has a number of elements in common with it, such as "the criminal intent (motive), purpose behind the attacks, the nature of the victims targeted, the pattern of the attacks (modus operandi) and the perpetrators." According to Article 1 of the Statute, the Tribunal has jurisdiction over attacks that occurred in Lebanon between 1 October 2004 and 12 December 2005 but only if their connectedness to the Hariri attack is determined by the Pre-Trial Judge.
While the Pre-Trial Judge's rulings do not mean that an indictment will necessarily be issued by the Prosecution, it allows them to continue investigating these cases. It is for the Prosecutor to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support an indictment in any of these three connected cases.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

STL President orders public advertisement of the indictment and calls for intensification of efforts to detain those accused

Leidschendam, 18 August 2011 - The President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Judge Antonio Cassese, has ruled that public advertisement of the indictment is now necessary. This must take place before a decision about in absentia proceedings can be taken.
The recent report by the Lebanese authorities on the steps that they have taken to search for the accused was also assessed by the STL President. Whilst Judge Cassese deemed their efforts to be reasonable he also called on the authorities to intensify their attempts to arrest the accused. The Lebanese Prosecutor General is now required to report to the Tribunal on a monthly basis.
"It must be emphasised, however, that the report submitted by Lebanon on 9 August 2011 does not end Lebanon's continuing obligation to assist the Tribunal in searching for, serving, arresting, detaining and transferring the accused," said Judge Cassese.
The report filed by the Lebanese prosecutor general states that Lebanon "exerted its utmost efforts to execute [the] arrest warrants in the name of the four accused". Those efforts were unsuccessful.
The steps taken by the Lebanese authorities, as outlined by the prosecutor general, include surveillance, interviewing alleged associates of the accused, visiting localities where the accused are believed to have connections, meeting with municipality officials and interviewing neighbours.
"I understand these procedures satisfy the requirements of Article 147 of the Lebanese Code of Criminal Procedure," said Judge Cassese.
The STL Registrar will now transmit "a form of advertisement" to the Lebanese authorities. He will also consider other means of disseminating the indictment in Lebanon as well as in other countries.
Source: STL Release

US reaction to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s publication of the indictment.

Taken Question
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
Question Taken at the August 17, 2011 Daily Press Briefing
Question: What is our reaction to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's publication of the indictment of four Hezbollah members?
Answer: As Secretary Clinton said earlier this month, this indictment is an important milestone toward justice and ending a period of impunity for political violence in Lebanon. We appreciate the work of the Special Tribunal and 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. It operates in accordance with the same judicial and professional standards as other international tribunals, whether it is those focusing on crimes committed in Europe, Africa or elsewhere. This process is a means of ending the era of impunity for the terrible and tragic violence that has touched all of Lebanon's communities.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

STL Prosecutor Bellemare Welcomes Tribunal’s Order to Unseal the Indictment

Leidschendam, 17 August 2011 – Prosecutor Daniel A. Bellemare welcomes the recent order of the Pre-Trial Judge to unseal the indictment.  The Prosecutor stated, "This Order will finally inform the public and the victims about the facts alleged in the indictment regarding the commission of the crime that led to charging the four accused.  This unsealing of the indictment answers many questions about the 14 February 2005 attack.  The full story will however only unfold in the courtroom, where an open, public, fair and transparent trial will render a final verdict".

The investigations of the Office of the Prosecutor are ongoing and preparations for trial continue.
For the convenience of the public, the Office of the Prosecutor has prepared the following brief overview of the indictment.  The indictment alone is the authoritative charging instrument.



The Indictment charges the four following accused persons for their individual criminal responsibility in the attack against Rafik Hariri:

  • Salim Jamil Ayyash,
  • Mustafa Amine Badreddine (aka Sami Issa, Mustafa Youssef Badreddine, Elias Fouad Saab),
  • Hussein Hassan Oneissi (aka Hussein Hassan Issa), and;
  • Assad Hassan Sabra.

The evidence filed with the indictment (known as supporting material and comprising more than 20,000 pages) corroborates the following factual allegations and charges included in the indictment.

On the morning of 14 February 2005, Rafik Hariri, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, departed his residence at Quraitem Palace in Beirut to attend a session of Parliament.  As usual, he travelled in a convoy.  An assassination team consisting of Ayyash and others positioned themselves in several locations where they were able to track and observe Hariri's convoy.  They had done such tracking of Hariri on previous days in preparation for the attack.

Before 11:00 that day, Hariri arrived at Parliament.  Shortly before 12:00, Hariri left Parliament to go to Café Place de l'Étoile, located nearby, where he stayed for approximately 45 minutes, before leaving to go back to his residence.  At 12:49, Hariri entered his vehicle accompanied by MP Bassel Fuleihan and the convoy then departed the Place de l'Étoile.  Hariri and his security detail in a six-vehicle convoy started to drive back to Quraitem Palace via a coastal route, including Rue Minet el Hos'n.  At 12:52, a Mitsubishi Canter van moved very slowly towards the St. Georges Hotel, located on Rue Minet el Hos'n.  Approximately two minutes ahead of the convoy, the Mitsubishi Canter van moved towards its final position on Rue Minet el Hos'n.  At 12:55, as Hariri's convoy passed the St. Georges Hotel, a male suicide bomber detonated a large quantity of explosives concealed in the cargo area of the Mitsubishi Canter van, killing Hariri and 21 other victims and injuring 231 persons.

Shortly after the explosion, Oneissi and Sabra, acting together, called Reuters and Al-Jazeera in Beirut. Then Sabra called Al-Jazeera again and gave information on where to find a videotape that had been placed in a tree at ESCWA Square in Beirut.  The videotape was recovered together with a letter.  In the video, which was later broadcast on television, a man named Ahmad Abu Adass falsely claimed to be the suicide bomber on behalf of a fictitious fundamentalist group using the name 'Victory and Jihad in Greater Syria'.

As a result of the investigation which followed this attack, a significant amount of evidence was gathered, including witness statements, documentary evidence and electronic evidence (such as closed circuit television and telephone call data records).  The evidence has led to the identification of some of the persons responsible for the attack on Hariri.  Analysis of the call data records, for example, has revealed the users of a number of interconnected mobile phone networks involved in the assassination of Hariri.  Each network consisted of a group of phones, usually registered under false names, whose users had a high frequency of contact with each other.

The Indictment charges all four accused with Conspiracy aimed at committing a Terrorist Act, as co-perpetrators (Count 1).  Ayyash and Badreddine are charged (in Counts 2 to 5) with Committing a Terrorist Act by means of an explosive device, Intentional Homicide (of Hariri and the 21 other victims) with premeditation by using explosive materials, and Attempted Intentional Homicide (of those that survived but were injured) with premeditation by using explosive materials.  Oneissi and Sabra are charged as being accomplices to the commission of the others' offences (Counts 6 to 9).  All charges in the Indictment are crimes under Lebanese criminal law.

The roles that the accused played in the attack were as follows.  Badreddine served as the overall controller of the attack.  Ayyash coordinated the assassination team that was responsible for the physical perpetration of the attack.  Oneissi and Sabra, in addition to being conspirators, prepared and delivered the false claim of responsibility video, which sought to blame the wrong people, in order to shield the conspirators from justice.

It will be for the Trial Chamber to reach its own verdict after considering all the evidence at trial.
Source: STL Release

Indictment and its confirmation decision made public

Leidschendam 17 August 2011 - The Pre-Trial Judge has ordered that his decision confirming the indictment related to the 14 February 2005 attack, as well as the indictment itself, be made public.

In his decision confirming the indictment, the Pre-Trial Judge found that the Prosecution has presented sufficient evidence on a prima facie basis to proceed to trial. This does not imply that the individuals are guilty, but merely establishes that there is enough material for them to be tried. The Prosecution will have to prove at trial that the accused are guilty "beyond reasonable doubt".

"The Pre-Trial Judge found that the indictment meets the requirements with regard to the specific facts and grounds as required under international case law, the Statute and the Rules (of Procedure and Evidence)," the decision states.

In the ruling the Pre-Trial Judge first established his jurisdiction to rule on the indictment. He also clarified the law applicable to the charges against the accused and then determined if the indictment meets the requirements to proceed to trial.

In the decision, the Pre-Trial Judge also explained why, until now, the indictment was confidential, which is to "ensure the integrity of the judicial procedure and, in particular, ensure that the search and, where appropriate, apprehension of the accused are carried out effectively."
There are small parts of the decision and the indictment, as well as sections of its annexes, which remain confidential. They relate to matters that could affect the ongoing Prosecution investigation, as well as the privacy and security of victims and witnesses.

17 January – The Prosecutor submits an indictment for review to the Pre-Trial Judge.
11 March – The Prosecutor expands on the scope of the indictment filed on 17 January 2011
6 May – The Prosecutor amends the indictment, presenting "substantial new elements".
10 June – The Pre-Trial judge requests minor amendments to the indictment.
28 June – The Pre-Trial Judge confirms the indictment and orders for it to remain confidential.
30 June – The indictment is served on Lebanese authorities with 30 days to report on their efforts to search for, arrest and transfer the accused.
29 July – The Pre-Trial Judge ordered unsealing of part of the indictment detailing only the identity of the accused and the charges against them.
9 August – The Lebanese authorities report back to the Tribunal on their efforts. No one was arrested.
17 August – Indictment and the decision confirming it unsealed.

Source: STL Release