Friday, November 16, 2012

Prosecution Files Pre-Trial Brief

Leidschendam, 16 November 2012 – The Prosecution at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon filed yesterday its Pre-Trial Brief, the list of witnesses it intends to call at trial, and the list of exhibits it intends to offer into evidence.
The filing is in accordance with a deadline set by the Pre-Trial Judge as part of the preparation for trial.
The Prosecution's 58-page Pre-Trial Brief elaborates on the allegations and charges in the Indictment. It includes, for each count charged in the Indictment, a summary of the evidence which the Prosecution intends to bring regarding the commission of the alleged crime and the form of responsibility incurred by the accused.
The Pre-Trial Brief and associated documents were all filed on a confidential basis. The list of Witnesses and list of Exhibits will remain fully confidential, unless the judges decide otherwise.
A public redacted version of the Pre-Trial Brief will be available soon.
 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Appeals Chamber dismisses in absentia appeals

Leidschendam, 1 November 2012 - The Appeals Chamber unanimously dismissed challenges by the Defence asking for a review of the decision to begin an in absentia trial against the four men accused in the 14 February 2005 attack.
 
The Trial Chamber decided in February to try the four accused – Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Hussein Oneissi and Assad Sabra –in their absence after they failed to appear before the Tribunal.
 
Upon being appointed, lawyers for the four accused asked the Trial Chamber to reconsider its ruling, but the judges denied the request. Defence counsel appealed that decision.
 
The Trial Chamber's judges considered the efforts by the Lebanese authorities to find the accused and inform them of the proceedings against them, as well as the massive publicity that the indictment and the identities of the accused received in Lebanon. The Chamber found that under the circumstances, it was inconceivable that the Accused were unaware of the indictment against them and that everything was done to notify them.
 
In a decision published today, the Appeals judges confirmed the Trial Chamber's finding that the accused had knowledge of the charges and proceedings against them.
 
Trials in absentia are permissible under Lebanese law and are a measure of last resort to ensure that those who abscond do not delay the course of justice. The STL is the only international court since the Nuremberg tribunal to allow for trials in absentia, because it applies Lebanese law as well as international law.
 
The Tribunal will continue to prepare for trial in the Ayyash et al case. Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen set 25 March 2013 as the tentative start date for trial.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Appeals Chamber rules on legality

Leidschendam, 24 October 2012 – The Appeals Chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has unanimously dismissed Defence challenges to the Tribunal's legality.

Defence counsel had challenged, before the Trial Chamber, the legality of the Tribunal arguing that it violates Lebanese sovereignty, that the Tribunal has selective jurisdiction and no authority to try the Accused.

On 27 July, the Trial Chamber dismissed the Defence motions noting that the Tribunal was created by Security Council Resolution 1757 and the Trial Chamber did not have the authority to review this Resolution. It rejected all Defence challenges. The decision was appealed by counsel for three of the four Accused.

Four of the five Appeals Chamber judges agreed in their decision, issued today, that they lacked the authority to review a Security Council Resolution. However, in a separate opinion, Judge David Baragwanath expressed the view that the STL, as a court of law, must exercise a limited authority to review certain aspects of Security Council resolutions. He nonetheless concluded that the Defence Counsel have failed to establish that the Security Council acted beyond its authority and joined the other judges in dismissing the appeals.

Defence Counsel have argued in both Chambers that while the 14 February 2005 attack was tragic, it did not constitute a threat to international peace and security, which was the prerequisite for the Security Council's intervention to establish the STL.

The Appeals Chamber "considers that the Security Council has a broad discretion as to the characterization of a particular situation as a threat to peace and security and that the Tribunal cannot judicially review the Security Council's actions," the summary of the decision reads.

The judges of the Appeals Chamber also noted that once the Security Council identified the existence of a threat to peace and security under its Charter, it had discretion to determine which measures are required to maintain or restore international peace and security, in this case, the creation of a Tribunal.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Media Advisory - Appeals Chamber hearing on jurisdiction - Background

Leidschendam, 1 October 2012 - The Appeals Chamber is holding a public hearing on 1 October 2012 to allow the Defence to present challenges to the Tribunal's jurisdiction on appeal.
Defence counsel have appealed a ruling by the Trial Chamber that confirmed the Tribunal's legality and jurisdiction over the 14 February 2005 attack in Beirut.
 
If the Appeals Chamber upholds the STL's jurisdiction, preparations will continue for the tentative start of trial on 25 March 2013.
 
Defence lawyers argued in their appeals that the UN Security Council abused its power when it adopted Resolution 1757, which established the Tribunal. Defence counsel added that the Appeals Chamber has the power to review the legality of the Resolution and to declare that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was illegally established.
 
"Security Council Resolutions are not unassailable documents," the Defence team for Salim Ayyash, one of the accused, said in its appeal.
 
The Defence team for Mustafa Badreddine also argued that the 14 February 2005 attack did not constitute a threat to international peace and security, and that the Tribunal's establishment was intended for the benefit of one political faction.
 
In July, the Trial Chamber dismissed the Defence motions, saying that the Tribunal was set up legally, that it does not violate Lebanese sovereignty, and that it guarantees the accused the right to a fair trial. The Trial Chamber concluded that it did not have the authority to review a Security Council Resolution, and that Lebanon never claimed that the Tribunal was a violation of its sovereignty.
 
The Appeals Chamber also specified a number of legal issues which it invites the parties to address during the hearing.
 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Defence counsel granted license to continue representing Mustafa Badreddine

Leidschendam, 21 September 2012 – The United States authorities issued yesterday the licence required for Mr John Jones to continue to represent Mr Mustafa Badreddine, one of the accused in the Ayyash et al proceedings.
The US Treasury Department had imposed sanctions against Mr Badreddine last week. The defence counsel for Mr Badreddine had requested clarification from the Tribunal's President on whether Mr Jones, a dual US/UK citizen, can continue to represent Mr Badreddine.
Mr Badreddine's defence team can now continue to prepare for trial. The Appeals Chamber has scheduled a hearing on 1 October for the Defence to present a final challenge to the Tribunal's legality.
The Pre-Trial Judge has set 25 March 2013 as the tentative date for trial to begin.

Media accreditation for the Appeals Chamber hearing on jurisdiction and the Pre-Trial status conference

Leidschendam 21 September 2012 - The Appeals Chamber has scheduled an open hearing on 1 October at 9:15 AM to hear the appeal against the decision on the jurisdiction and the legality of the Tribunal.
The Trial Chamber dismissed on 27 July the four Defence motions challenging the jurisdiction and legality of the Tribunal. The counsel for three of the accused (Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine and Hussein Oneissi) appealed against this decision on 24 August 2012.
As part of his duties to ensure that the proceedings are not unduly delayed, the Pre-Trial Judge has scheduled a Status Conference on Friday 28 September 2012 at 10:00 AM. The Status Conference will be public; however the Judge might decide to go into closed session during the course of the hearing if confidential matters need to be discussed. The last Status Conference took place on 26 July 2012.
***
 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Media Advisory – Pre-Trial Judge recognises additional victims

Leidschendam, 4 September 2012 – The Pre-Trial Judge, Daniel Fransen, has granted nine additional persons the status of victims participating in the Ayyash et al proceedings.
The nine victims will form part of the existing group of 58 victims whose status as victims participating in the proceedings Judge Fransen recognised in a decision in May 2012.
"The Pre-Trial Judge's decision to increase the number of participating victims is a timely reminder that, whatever motives lay behind the detonation of 14 February 2005, there remains a substantial body of people across the divides of politics or religion for whom the event was life-changing," said Peter Haynes, lead legal representative for victims. "For them the Tribunal's work in discovering the truth behind their loss is a vital belief to cling to."
 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Trial Chamber rules on jurisdiction

Leidschendam, 30 July 2012 – The Trial Chamber confirmed the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's jurisdiction to try those accused of committing the 14 February 2005 attack and connected cases, in a decision published today.
The Trial Chamber dismissed all the motions of the Defence Counsel, who argued that the Tribunal was set up illegally, violates Lebanese sovereignty, has selective jurisdiction and does not guarantee the accused a right to fair trial.
The Trial Chamber's decision is subject to an appeal.
The challenge to the Tribunal's jurisdiction is a preliminary motion that must be dealt with before trial begins. The Pre-Trial Judge recently set 25 March 2013 as the tentative date for the start of trial. The Defence Counsel in the Ayyash and others. case filed motions in early May challenging the legality and jurisdiction of the STL. The Trial Chamber later held a hearing on 13 and 14 June to hear oral arguments from the Prosecution, the Defence Counsel and the legal representatives for victim
Legality versus jurisdiction
The Trial Chamber found that the defence motions are not challenges to jurisdiction but rather challenges to legality, or the validity, of the Tribunal. The challenges therefore do not fall within the definition of a preliminary motion.
Lebanese sovereignty
The Trial Chamber found that the United Nations Security Council established the STL when it passed Resolution 1757 in May 2007.
"Resolution 1757 is the sole basis of establishing the Tribunal," the judges wrote in their decision, and Lebanon, as a member state of the United Nations has complied with its obligations under the Resolution.
Because of this, the Trial Chamber found that it was not necessary to examine any issues in the Defence motions alleging violation of Lebanese domestic law.
Furthermore, the Trial Chamber found that the state of Lebanon has never claimed a violation of its sovereignty. "To the contrary, as a member state of the United Nations, Lebanon has honored its obligations specified in the annex to the resolution by taking all required steps, including; presenting a list of 12 persons to be appointed as judges by the Secretary-General, appointing a Deputy Prosecutor, recognizing the juridical capacity of the Tribunal to enter into agreements with states by concluding the Memoranda of Understanding with the Tribunal, contributing significantly to financing the Tribunal, facilitating establishing the Tribunal's Beirut field office, complying with requests for assistance from the Tribunal, and deferring to the Tribunal's jurisdiction the cases related to the 14 February 2005 attack," the judges said.
"The Trial Chamber thus cannot make a finding of any violation of Lebanese sovereignty."
The power to review the Security Council Resolution
The Trial Chamber found that had it no power to review the actions of the Security Council in establishing the Tribunal and that "No other judicial body possesses such a power of potential judicial review of the Security Council".
Further, the Trial Chamber found that, because the United Nations may establish a court, a Tribunal established by the United Nations or Security council, such as the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, has been validly "established by law".
The selective nature of the Tribunal
The Trial Chamber found that the limited jurisdiction of the Tribunal did not infringe any of the Accused's fundamental rights to a fair trial.
"Criminal investigation and prosecution is unavoidably selective in any system" the Trial Chamber held.
And such "selectivity" is a normal part of international criminal jurisdictions such as the STL's "and an inevitable consequence of establishing an international criminal court or tribunal," the Trial Chamber found.
Fundamental rights of the accused
The Trial Chamber found that the Tribunal's procedures under its Statute and Rules and it obligation to strictly apply the principles of international human rights law guarantee the Accused, "all relevant and necessary rights to a fair trial". The establishment of the Tribunal does not violate the rights of the Accused to a fair trial.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pre-Trial Judge sets tentative date for trial

Leidschendam, 9 July 012 - The Pre-Trial Judge issued today an order setting 5 March 013 as a tentative date for trial to start in the Ayyash et al case.

The order provides the parties and the victims' legal representatives with a concrete starting date allowing them to continue preparing for trial.

"The setting of a provisional date for trial by Judge Daniel Fransen is an important judicial step on the road to trial," said Marten Youssef, the Tribunal's spokesperson.

The Pre-Trial Judge issued his order after consulting with the Prosecution, Defence, and President of the STL.

The rules of the Tribunal require the Pre-Trial Judge to set a tentative date for trial. That date may be subject to change pending further developments, such as the possibility of the Prosecutor filing a request to amend the indictment or the arrest.

It is also subject to the Trial Chamber's decision on the Tribunal's jurisdiction and their rulings on other preliminary motions.

In issuing the order, the Pre-Trial Judge considered the complexity and the gravity of the case and the need for defense counsel to have enough time to prepare their defence and to conduct their investigations.

In the meantime, the Pre-Trial Judge intends to continue actively pursuing his mandate to prepare and facilitate a fair and expeditious trial.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Media Advisory - Appeals Chamber rejects request to reconsider decision on the applicable law

Leidschendam, 18 July 2012 - The Appeals Chamber issued today a decision rejecting the request of the Defence to reconsider its ruling of 16 February 2011, which defined terrorism for the first time in international law.
The Defence argued that the content of the decision should be revisited. They also challenged the procedure followed to issue that decision. The Appeals Chamber decided that in order to reconsider its 16 February 2011 decision, the Defence must show that the accused suffered a prejudice from that decision. The Chamber found that the Defence failed to show any harm against the accused and rejected the request.

On 16 February 2011, the Appeals Chamber had issued a decision on 15 questions of law submitted by the Pre-Trial Judge to assist him in the confirmation of the indictment against the four accused. In that decision, the Chamber explained how the Tribunal should apply Lebanese law and defined the crimes of terrorism, conspiracy and homicide.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Media Advisory - Lebanon’s 012 contribution

Leidschendam, 1 July 012 – The Special Tribunal for Lebanon can confirm that it has received the funding from the Lebanese Government for the 2012 Budget.

The full amount 26,927,270 Euros, amounting to 9 per cent of the Tribunal's budget, was transferred to the Tribunal's bank account this morning by the Lebanese Government.

The STL thanks the Government of Lebanon for its 2012 contribution and its ongoing commitment to the work of the Tribunal.



Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Victims' legal representatives sworn in

Leidschendam, 5 June 2012 –The lead legal representative and the two co-legal representatives designated by the Registrar to represent the victims of the 14 February 2005 attack in the Ayyash et al. proceedings have been sworn in.
The three legal representatives will represent the 58 people who were granted the right to participate as victims in the proceedings by the Pre-Trial judge.
The victims' legal representatives signed a declaration that they will exercise their duties "with integrity and diligence, honorably, freely, expeditiously and conscientiously". They also committed to "scrupulously respect professional confidentiality and the other duties imposed by the Code of Professional Conduct for Counsel Appearing Before the Tribunal".
"This designation underlines a milestone in victim participation in the STL proceedings," said Alain Grellet, the Chief of the Victims' Participation Unit of the Registry of the STL.
Biographies of the victims' legal representatives will be available on the STL website in due course.
The Victims' Participation Unit can be reached at + 961 (0) 45 38 150 or by e-mail at stl-victims@un.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
 
 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Media Advisory - Trial Chamber hearing on STL’s jurisdiction

Leidschendam, May 12 - The Trial Chamber has scheduled a hearing on June to hear arguments on the jurisdiction of the STL and the legality of its creation.

The defence counsel representing the four accused - Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Hussein Oneissi and Assad Sabra -filed motions recently challenging the legality and jurisdiction of the Tribunal.

In their motions, the Defence argued that the STL was established unlawfully and applies justice selectively.

It is common practice in international tribunals for the Defence to challenge the jurisdiction of the courts. The Prosecution has until June to file a response to the Defence motions.

The landmark hearing will be another step towards trial in the case of Ayyash et al.

The Trial Chamber ruled in February that the four accused would be tried in their absence. The STL is the only existing international tribunal that can hold trials in absentia, since its statute includes elements of both Lebanese and international law.

Lawyers for the victims of the February 05 attack have been invited by the Trial Chamber to file observations on the challenges to the STL's jurisdiction. The Tribunal's Registrar appointed legal representatives for the victims participating in proceedings last week.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Victims’ participation

Leidschendam, 9 May 2012 – The Pre-Trial Judge has determined that 58 of the 73 victims of the 14 February 2005 attack who applied to do so can now participate in the Ayyash et al. proceedings.
Judge Daniel Fransen has reviewed the 73 victim applications he has received, 15 of which were deemed to be incomplete. The PreTrial judge has said that he would require additional information before granting the incomplete applications.
Having thoroughly reviewed the applications of the 58 successful applicants, Judge Fransen has found no reason to divide the victims into different groups. In his decision, Judge Fransen said that he is "required to ensure that the proceedings are not unduly delayed, and to take any measures necessary to prepare the case for a fair and expeditious trial."
According to the Tribunal's Rules, it is now up to the Registrar to designate a legal representative to represent the victims during trial, and as many co-counsel as the Registrar feels is appropriate to assist the legal representative.
Although Judge Fransen's decision is public, the names and identities of the victims will continue to remain confidential unless and until there is a further court order to the contrary.
Victims of the 14 February 2005 attack who have not yet applied to participate in the proceedings can still apply through the Tribunal's Victim Participation Unit. All future applications will also be subject to review by the Pre-Trial Judge.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Media Advisory – Pre-Trial Judge sets deadline for challenging Tribunal's jurisdiction

Leidschendam, 6 April 012 – The Pre-Trial Judge has set a timeline for the submission of preliminary motions challenging the jurisdiction of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

In order to ensure the preparation of a fair and expeditious trial, the Pre-Trial Judge, Daniel Fransen, convened a status conference on 2 April 012.. Judge Fransen decided that any preliminary motions challenging the Tribunal's jurisdiction must be filed by May 012..

The deadline to submit other preliminary motions will be decided in due course.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Foreign Secretary announces funding for international criminal tribunals

26 March 2012
Foreign Secretary William Hague announced additional UK funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
In a written statement to Parliament he said:
"In line with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Strategic Framework priority of Safeguarding Britain's national security by countering terrorism and working to reduce conflict, and as a demonstration of the Government's continued support for international justice as a key pillar of our foreign policy, I am pleased to announce additional UK funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
We will provide £1 million to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, taking the UK's total contribution to £3.3 million since 2009.  This contribution underlines the UK's steadfast support for the Special Tribunal which is key to holding to account of those guilty of serious crimes and ending the climate of impunity for political assassination in Lebanon.  The UK is, and will remain, committed to working towards Lebanon's continued sovereignty and stability.
We will contribute a further £750,000 to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, taking the UK's total contribution to around £4.4 million since 2006.  This demonstrates the UK's continued commitment to Cambodian reconciliation and development and bringing justice to the victims, and families of victims of the horrific atrocities and deaths of around 2 million Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge.
Finally, we will make available an additional £600,000 for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, taking the UK's total contribution to around £27.6 million since 2002.  This will help allow the Special Court to complete the trial of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia.  The Special Court will be the first court to deliver judgement on a former head of state related to charges of war crimes for actions he took while in office.  
We believe there should be no impunity for the most serious crimes at the international level. The effective prosecution of those who commit these crimes is fundamental to preventing such crimes, which in turn is vital in the development of communities which are more stable and prosperous.  I take this opportunity to applaud the important continuing work of all of the international tribunals."

Friday, March 16, 2012

President temporarily suspends “criminal association” proceedings

Leidschendam, 16 March 2012 – The STL President has decided to temporarily suspend proceedings to define the crime of "criminal association" in an order today. This follows the Pre-Trial Judge's rejection of the Prosecutor's request to amend the indictment.

The Prosecution had filed a confidential request to amend the indictment on 8 February and sought to add a count of "criminal association" to the indictment. The Pre-Trial Judge then asked the Appeals Chamber to define "criminal association", which is an offence under the Lebanese Criminal Code (article 335).

The Pre-Trial Judge later rejected the Prosecution's request in a confidential decision on 13 March. The rejection was based on procedural grounds.

The President of the STL has now asked the parties and the Defence Office to make submissions on whether the Appeals Chamber should continue with the process of defining "criminal association".
 
 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Request to define the crime “criminal association”

Leidschendam, 2 March 2012 - The Pre Trial Judge has requested the Appeals Chamber to define the crime of "criminal association" following the Prosecution's recent request to amend the indictment.
On 8 February, the Prosecution requested to amend the indictment in a confidential filing only to the Pre Trial Judge. The contents of the amended indictment remain confidential. The Prosecution is seeking to add a new count to the indictment of "criminal association", which is an offence under the Lebanese Penal Code (article 335).

Under the Tribunal's Rules, the Pre Trial Judge may ask the Appeals Chamber to deal with such preliminary questions. This happened last year when the Appeals Chamber was asked to define terrorism and conspiracy, amongst other crimes. At that time, the Appeals Chamber was not called on to define the crime of "criminal association".

The Pre Trial Judge will rely on the Appeals Chamber's definition in his review of the Prosecution's request to amend the indictment. He can confirm or reject the proposed amendments completely or in part.
http://www.stl-tsl.org/en/media/press-releases/02-03-2012-request-to-define-the-crime-criminal-association
 

Media Advisory – STL President answers frequently asked questions on video

Leidschendam, 1 March 2012 – The first public statements by Judge Sir David Baragwanath, the Tribunal's President, on a number of key issues including the so-called "false witnesses" and connected cases, are now available on the STL website.
The videos are available on http://www.stl-tsl.org/en/ask-the-tribunal as well as the STL Youtube channel and high-resolution versions are being distributed to broadcast media.
In the videos, the STL President addresses the issues of the so-called "false witnesses", how the Tribunal determines connected cases, whether the STL can try political assassinations that occurred in Lebanon after 2005 or the deaths of Lebanese civilians in the 2006 war, and how the STL contributes to the rule of law in Lebanon.
  • Can the STL try political assassinations in Lebanon that occurred after 2005?
  • How can the STL contribute to the rule of law in Lebanon?
  • Can the STL consider the issue of the so-called "false witnesses"?
  • How does the Tribunal determine that attacks are "connected" to the 14 February attack?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

BAN APPOINTS PROSECUTOR AND JUDGE FOR UN-BACKED TRIBUNAL FOR LEBANON

New York, Feb 29 2012 2:10PM
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appointed Norman Farrell of Canada as the prosecutor of the United Nations-backed independent tribunal set up to try those responsible for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

Mr. Farrell replaces Daniel Bellemare, who has completed his term as prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). Mr. Farrell is currently deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Mr. Ban expressed his gratitude to Mr. Bellemare for his leadership in advancing the work of the Special Tribunal.

The Secretary-General also appointed Daniel David Ntanda Nsereko of Uganda as an international judge of the appeals chamber of the special tribunal. Mr. Nsereko is currently a judge in the appeals division of the International Criminal Court (ICC). He replaces the late Antonio Cassese, who was also a former president of the STL.

"In announcing these appointments, the Secretary-General once again reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to the efforts of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to uncover the truth regarding the terrorist attack that took the lives of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others, as well as other connected attacks, so as to bring those responsible to justice and send a message that impunity will not be tolerated," said a statement issued by his spokesperson.

The STL is an independent court created at the request of the Lebanese Government, with a mandate issued by the Security Council.

Mr. Hariri and the 22 others were killed on 14 February 2005 after a massive car bomb exploded as his motorcade passed through central Beirut.

Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra, all Lebanese nationals, have been indicted over the killing. They will be tried in absentia after the STL determined earlier this month that all reasonable attempts had been made to inform the four men of the charges they face and to bring them before the court.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

BAN EXTENDS MANDATE OF UN-BACKED TRIBUNAL IN LEBANON

New York, Feb 22 2012 3:10PM
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has extended the mandate by another three years of the United Nations-backed independent tribunal set up to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

Mr. Ban extended the mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is based in The Hague in the Netherlands, by three years from 1 March this year, according to information released by Mr. Ban's spokesperson.

Mr. Hariri and 22 others were killed on 14 February 2005 after a massive car bomb exploded as his motorcade passed through central Beirut.

Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra, all Lebanese nationals, have been indicted over the killing. They will be tried in absentia after the STL determined earlier this month that all reasonable attempts had been made to inform the four men of the charges they face and to bring them before the court.

Mr. Ban's spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General reaffirms the UN's commitment to support the efforts of the STL to uncover the truth behind the bombing so as to bring those responsible to justice and to send a message that impunity for such major crimes will not be tolerated.

The tribunal is an independent court created at the request of the Lebanese Government, with a mandate issued by the Security Council.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Assignment of permanent counsel

Beirut, 2 February 2012 - The Head of Defence Office assigned permanent counsel to the four accused in the case Prosecutor v. Ayyash et al.
The Trial Chamber decided that the accused will be tried in absentia. Today the Pre-Trial Judge requested the assignment of counsel.
The Head of Defence Office assigned the eight counsel that were previously assigned as duty counsel. He stated that "he is confident that he assigns experienced and competent counsel. They are fully independent and can choose any strategy they see best fit to defend the rights of the accused."
The Prosecutor is now required to disclose the indictment supporting materials to the counsel within 30 working days.
The defence counsel face the difficult task of representing and defending the accused without communicating with him. In order to assist in achieving equality of arms, the Defence Office shall provide counsel with legal advice and practical support.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In absentia proceedings

Leidschendam, 1 February 2012 - The Trial Chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has decided to try the four men accused of the 14 Feb 2005 attack in their absence.
The Trial Chamber examined numerous documents from the Tribunal's Prosecutor and the Lebanese Prosecutor-General, which detail the steps taken by the Lebanese authorities to apprehend the accused and inform them about the proceedings.
These efforts included multiple attempts by the Lebanese authorities to find the accused at their last known residences, places of employment, family homes and other locations. The Trial Chamber also took into consideration the fact that the indictment and the identities of the accused received massive publicity in Lebanon.
The Trial Chamber concluded that all reasonable steps have been taken to secure the appearance of the accused and to notify them of the charges against them.
While the STL is the only international Tribunal that can prosecute accused in their absence, it is a measure of last resort to ensure that the pursuit of justice is not paralysed by those who choose to abscond.
For further details on the upcoming steps, please see the media advisory on the upcoming steps.

Media Advisory – Trial Chamber decision on in absentia proceedings: the upcoming steps

Following a decision by the Trial Chamber, there are a number of necessary steps which need to take place before the actual trial can start.

Assignment of Defence Counsel
One of the first actions of the Pre-Trial Judge will be to request the Head of the Defence Office, Fran├žois Roux, to assign counsel to the accused. If the accused are apprehended or decide to participate in the proceedings they may appoint counsel of their choice.

Within 30 days of the Trial Chamber decision, the Prosecutor will disclose to the Defence copies of the supporting material which accompanied the indictment at the confirmation stage. These include copies of the supporting material accompanying the indictment and the statements of all witnesses whom the Prosecutor intends to call to testify at trial. The Prosecution also has the duty to start providing any evidence they may have gathered that could potentially prove the innocence of the accused.

While the Prosecution continue their investigations, the Defence can now review the entire case and start their own investigations. Although the burden of proof is on the Prosecution, the Defence can challenge the Prosecution's allegations and also present different case theories and call its own witnesses and evidence..

Investigations by the Defence may involve interviewing witnesses, visiting crime scenes, and collecting evidence. The Defence may also request information and assistance from the Lebanese authorities or other Sstates.

With the permission of the Pre-Trial Judge, the Defence may also summon witnesses and execute searches and seizures. The Tribunal's Defence Office helps with legal and logistical matters.

At this stage, the rules also allow for preliminary motions challenging the Tribunal's jurisdiction, alleging technical and/or legal defects in the form of the indictment or seeking the severance of some of the counts. These motions can be filed by the parties in writing.

Working plan and trial
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. He will need to provide the Defence with enough time to review the case and prepare for trial.

The Pre-Trial Judge is also responsible for producing a file for the Trial Chamber containing several items such as:
- all the filings of the parties and of the victims participating in the proceedings;
- all orders and decisions that he has made, as well as a summary of those rulings;
- suggestions about the witnesses to be called by the Prosecutor and the witnesses that the victims participating in the proceedings wish to call; and
- points of agreement and disagreement between the Prosecution and Defence.

Appearance of accused during in absentia proceedings
Lebanon has an ongoing obligation to search for, detain and transfer the accused. If the accused are found in the course of the proceedings in absentia or if they choose to participate in the process, they have the right to be retried in their presence.
If the accused appear after an in absentia conviction, once the trial is completely finalised, the accused can:
• accept the conviction or sentence;
• accept the conviction but request a new hearing in respect of the sentence; or
• request a retrial.

Timeline in the case of Ayyash et al.
17 January 2011– The Prosecutor submitted an indictment for review to the Pre-Trial Judge.
28 June 2011 – The Pre-Trial Judge confirmed the indictment and ordered that it remain confidential.
30 June 2011 – The indictment was served on the Lebanese authorities, who were given 30 days to report on their efforts to search for, arrest and transfer the accused.
29 July 2011 – The Pre-Trial Judge ordered the partial unsealing of the indictment, to reveal the identity of the accused and the charges against them.
17 August 2011 – The Indictment and the decision confirming it were unsealed.
18 August 2011 – The STL President ordered the public advertisement of the indictment and called for an intensification of efforts to detain those accused.
8 September 2011 – The STL President convened the Trial Chamber in the Ayyash et al. case.
17 October 2011 – The Pre-Trial Jjudge requested the Trial Chamber to decide on in absentia proceedings.
20 October 2011 – The Trial Chamber called for submissions on the in absentia proceedings.
11 November 2011 – The Trial Chamber held its first hearing to receive arguments and submissions from the Prosecution and the Defence Office about starting in absentia proceedings.
23 November 2011 – The Trial Chamber decided to await a response from the Lebanese authorities to the Requests for Assistance made by the Prosecution on efforts to arrest the accused before deciding whether to initiate proceedings in absentia.
15 December 2011 - The Trial Chamber received a report from the Office of the Prosecutor with a few hundred pages of material received from the Prosecutor General of Lebanon in response to the Prosecutor's Requests for Assistance.