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Lebanon tribunal meets to define 'terrorism' for Hariri case

The UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) [official website; JURIST news archive] met on Monday to define key terms related to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. In particular, the STL is seeking to define the term "terrorism" [AP report] in order to determine which laws to apply in the case against persons accused of involvement in the February 2005 truck bomb that killed Hariri and 22 other people. To date, there is no international consensus on what constitutes the crime of terrorism. This process marks the beginning of the judicial process [Al Jazeera report], after a lengthy investigation. Indictments could be unsealed later this month, with the trial starting in a year. The STL is the first international court with jurisdiction over the crime of terrorism [AFP report].

Last month, STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare filed [JURIST report] a sealed indictment [statement, PDF; press release] with the tribunal's pretrial judge charging an unknown number of people for their roles in Hariri's assassination. The names of those indicted will be kept confidential [Lebanon Daily Star report] until the pretrial judge reviews and approves the indictment, but many believe that the indictment names members of Hezbollah [CFR backgrounder]. In August, Hezbollah submitted evidence to the STL [JURIST report] linking Israel with the bombing. The STL asked for the evidence [JURIST report] a week earlier after Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah [BBC profile] claimed to have proof that Israel was behind the bombing. Last February, the head of the STL reassured [JURIST report] the Lebanese public that the investigation is on track. When asked about the progress of the investigation into the death of Hariri, the head of the STL "underlined the fact that the Tribunal already has in place all the legal and administrative instruments necessary for its work, and is fully operational so that justice may be dispensed with complete independence and impartiality in accordance with the highest international standards." The STL was established in 2005 at the request of the Lebanese government to try those alleged to be connected to the bombing in which Hariri was killed by explosions detonated near his motorcade in Beirut.

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