[JURIST] UN Legal Counsel Nicolas Michel [official profile] said Thursday that the UN is ready to begin final negotiations on the establishment of an international tribunal to try suspects in the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive]. Michel said that a mixed tribunal with both Lebanese and international support, similar to the Special Court for Sierra Leone [official website], would produce the best outcome. He said that it is unlikely that the tribunal will be established inside Lebanon and that factors such as impartiality and safety of witnesses and judges will determine its location. Michel's comments follow a recommendation of a mixed tribunal [JURIST report] from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan earlier this week.
The UN Security Council [official website] must vote to allow Annan to open formal negotiations on the establishment of a tribunal, and that vote could come next week. A UN commission investigating the assassination [UN materials] has suggested that top Syrian security officials were involved, but Syria has denied any involvement. Reuters has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.