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US urges quick Hariri tribunal approval after latest Lebanon assassination

[JURIST] US UN Ambassador John Bolton [official profile] has urged quick agreement [press release] on the creation of an international tribunal to try suspects in the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive] in the aftermath of Tuesday's assassination [BBC report] of anti-Syrian Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, who was gunned down in his car in Beirut. The murder of Gemayel, a Maronite Christian leader, was immediately condemned by world leaders. Bolton remarked that Gemayel's assassination "shows why we need the tribunal established as soon as possible, why it was correct to expand the mandate of the Brammertz investigatory commission, and why the tribunal needs the flexibility to try the perpetrators of the other political assassinations in Lebanon." UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile] declared [press release] that "such acts of terrorism undermine Lebanon's stability, are unacceptable and have no place in a democratic and open society. The perpetrators and instigators of today's attack must be brought to justice to ensure an end to impunity."

Annan submitted [JURIST report] his proposal [JURIST report] for the Hariri tribunal to the UN Security Council [official website] last week despite Lebanese President Emile Lahoud's rejection [JURIST report] of his cabinet's approval [JURIST reports] of the draft. Although the UN's plan has not been made public, the tribunal is expected to be based outside Lebanon and will use a combination of Lebanese and international judges. Previous reports by the UN's Hariri investigatory commission [UN materials] implicated Syrian officials [JURIST report] in the assassination. Hariri and 22 others were killed in a massive explosion on the Beirut waterfront. The UN's authority to help Lebanon establish the tribunal stems from UN Security Council Resolution 1644 [text]. Reuters has more.

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