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UN top lawyer says Hariri tribunal plans moving forward

[JURIST] UN legal counsel Nicholas Michel [official profile] said Friday at the end of a two-day visit to Lebanon that a special tribunal [JURIST report] to try individuals connected with the February 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive] was closer to realization after his latest round of talks with Lebanese officials. Michel, formally the UN Under- Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, noted that there are still issues to be sorted out before the international court is finalized, but also that there has been "rapid and substantial" progress over the last few months. Michel's comments echoed those made Thursday by Lebanese Justice Minister Charles Rizk [Arab Decision profile], who said some details of the tribunal plan needed clarification. Rizk indicated that the tribunal will likely have two chambers: a three-judge trial chamber and a five-judge appeals court chamber. International judges will predominate on both, but one Lebanese judge is expected to serve at the trial level and two are expected to sit on appeals.

A probe into Hariri's death by the UN International Independent Investigation Commission [UN materials] is ongoing [JURIST report]. Late last year the commission reported it had information that senior officials from Syria were involved [JURIST report] in the murder. AFP has more.

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