Lebanon tribunal urges suspects to turn themselves in

[JURIST] The president of the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) [official website] made a public plea [press release] on Thursday for the four men wanted for killing former prime minister Rafik Hariri [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to turn themselves in. Judge Antonio Cassese guaranteed a fair trial and adequate representation and pressed Lebanese citizens to allow the STL to hold the assassins accountable. Cassese also guaranteed that the STL will find a way to carry out its missions even if no one complies with its orders.

Let me also remind all those allegedly involved in those terrorist crimes in Lebanon that nothing, I repeat, nothing will deflect or prevent the Tribunal from fulfilling its mission. The lofty ideals on which the Tribunal is grounded (accountability, dispensation of justice to contribute to long-term peace and reconciliation, safeguarding the rights of the victims) are solidly ingrained in our Statute and our Rules and jealously protected by the Judges. They cannot be set aside by a stroke of the pen, by mere rhetoric or even by violence. The march to justice is inexorable, and one way or another we will end up with a trial. I therefore strongly appeal to the accused to take advantage of the broad legal possibilities offered by our Rules of Procedure and Evidence, thereby contributing to the establishment of truth and the conduct of fair proceedings.
Arrest warrants were issued [JURIST report] in June for Mustafa Badreddine, Salim al-Ayyash, Hasan Aineysseh and Asad Sabra, who are alleged members [Lebanon Daily Star report] of Hezbollah [CFR backgrounder]. Lebanese authorities reported back earlier this week that they have not detained the suspects [JURIST report].

In February, the appeals chamber of the STL issued a unanimous ruling [summary, PDF] on several procedural issues, including the definition of terrorism [JURIST report], in judicial proceedings. The STL began debate on the issue [JURIST report] 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. Using the Article 314 of the Lebanese Criminal Code [text, PDF], the court held that a conviction on the charge of terrorism requires proof of an act intended to spread terror and use of a means "liable to create a public danger," that the only requirement is that "the means used to carry out the terrorist attack be liable to create a common danger" and that the trial judges should be given latitude in determining whether the requirement was met after having considered the facts presented in the case. Last 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. 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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