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UN Hariri tribunal appoints officials, adopts procedural rules

[JURIST] The UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) [official website] has named several key officials and finalized procedural and evidentiary rules in order to begin investigating and trying those involved in the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive], according to a statement [UN News Centre report] issued by the court Wednesday. The STL, which was created [JURIST report] in May 2007, will be headed by Antonio Cassese, who was the first president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website]. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] appointed Francois Roux of France as the head of the defense office. Daniel Bellemare [Ya Libnan profile], who formerly headed the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) [authorizing resolution; UN materials] that assisted Lebanese authorities with the investigation of Hariri's assassination, was appointed as lead prosecutor of the STL earlier this month. While the court has named Cassese and pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen of Belgium, it said that it will refrain from naming the remaining judges for the trial and appeals chamber until the appropriate security precautions are in place.

Last month, the STL's registrar Robin Vincent [official profile, PDF] said that it plans to ask the Lebanese government to transfer four generals [Daily Star report; JURIST report] being held on suspicion of involvement in Hariri's assassination to the court's custody. In March 2008, Bellemare said he believed a criminal network was behind the assassination [JURIST report]. The STL will consist of 11 international and Lebanese judges and have a budget of $51 million [JURIST report] for its first year . The investigation into the assassination, which had been extended past its original anticipated end date and expanded to cover other assassinations in the country, has increased existing tensions between Lebanon and Syria as several IIIC reports have implicated Syrian officials in Hariri's death [JURIST reports].

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