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.