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Hariri tribunal preparations almost complete

[JURIST] Preparations for the establishment of an international tribunal to try those accused of killing former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive] and others in a Beirut bombing in February 2005 are almost complete, according to a Lebanese minister meeting UN officials in New York Thursday. Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh [profile] said, however, that funding details for the court still needed to be ironed out, and that "a significant Lebanese presence" on the panel had to be ensured since it had been agreed that it would not be headed by a Lebanese judge. To preserve its impartiality and security it will also sit outside of Lebanon, just as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda sits in Arusha, in neighboring Tanzania. The exact location of the Hariri court has not yet been announced. Hamadeh, himself a survivor of an assassination attempt in October 2004, also reiterated that approval for the tribunal would need to be provided by a resolution from the UN Security Council.

Hamadeh's visit follows a January meeting of UN officials with Lebanese leaders in Lebanon, and visits of two Lebanese judges to New York for consultations with UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Nicolas Michel [official profile]. The new head of the UN probe into Hariri's assassination [UN backgrounder], former Belgian and International Criminal Court prosecutor Serge Brammertz, is scheduled to submit an updated a report to the Security Council on March 15. Top Syrian security officials are suspected of having been involved in the murders. The UN has been authorized to help Lebanon establish a tribunal under UN Security Council Resolution 1644 [official PDF text]. Reuters has more.

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