Friday, June 6, 2014

Appeals Chamber confirms the date for the resumption of the Ayyash et al. trial

Leidschendam, 5 June 2014 – The Appeals Chamber today rendered a decision confirming 18 June as the date for the resumption of trial in the Ayyash et al. case.
The decision follows an appeal filed by counsel for Mr Merhi on 22 May 2014.
The Appeals Chamber denied three of the four grounds of appeal raised by counsel for Mr Merhi but it upheld, in part, one of Merhi's Defence complaints. The Merhi team had requested to postpone the trial until an expert had reviewed the Prosecution's evidence and prepared a report. The Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber had "abused its discretion when it failed to consider whether counsel for Mr Merhi required the assistance of their expert – at least on the basis of interim reports – for particular witnesses or groups of witnesses that the Prosecutor intends to call in the next part of his case."
The Appeals Chamber Judges instructed the Trial Chamber to assess on a case-by-case basis whether the Merhi Defence can challenge the evidence of certain witnesses without the assistance of an expert.
A pre-trial conference is scheduled for 16 June and trial will resume on 18 June 2014.

Written Decision on the Assignment of Counsel in the Case against Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. and Ibrahim Al Amin

Leidschendam, 5 June 2014 – The Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri has today issued a decision providing written reasons for the assignment of counsel in the case against Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. and Mr Ibrahim Al Amin (STL-14-06).
The initial appearances of Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. and Ibrahim Al Amin, which were originally scheduled for 13 May, were rescheduled to 29 May upon the Accused's request. Mr Al Amin, representing both himself and Akhbar Beirut S.A.L., appeared via video-conference. Prior to entering a plea, the Accused read a statement to the court, after which he left the courtroom. Judge Lettieri interpreted Mr Al Amin's statement and his actions as a plea of not-guilty. After consultations with the parties the Contempt Judge ordered the Defence Office to appoint counsel for the Accused.
The decision of the Contempt Judge makes it clear that Mr Al Amin's presence at the initial appearance means that he no longer has the rights that an Accused in an in absentia trial enjoys (see paragraph 13 of the decision).
The Contempt Judge states in his decision that Mr Amin may still participate in person or via video-conference in these proceedings, and appoint counsel of his own choosing to represent him if he so wishes. In this case, the Judge concludes that he "would be ready to reconsider" his decision to order the Head of the Defence Office to appoint counsel on his behalf.
In addition to ordering the assignment of counsel, the decision ordered the Amicus Curiae Prosecutor to initiate disclosure at the earliest opportunity after counsel is assigned and necessary arrangements are made.
The 31 January decision stipulated that publicising the names of protected witnesses – or even alleging such publication – may have serious consequences for the Tribunal's functioning. Today's decision read that "at the centre of these proceedings, which are ancillary to the main case currently before the Trial Chamber, is the Tribunal's ability and duty to protect its witnesses".
All public filings in this case are available at .