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Lebanon contributes money necessary to fund UN tribunal

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Wednesday announced that the country has made the payment required to help fund the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) [official website; JURIST news archive], which has been tasked with investigating the assassination of a Lebanese statesman. According to Mikati, Lebanon transferred the $36 million [AP report] it was required to contribute in an effort to demonstrate the country's commitment to "international obligations and the principles of justice." The tribunal has been attempting to investigate and hold accountable those involved in the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], who died as the result of a suicide bomb which also killed 22 others. This investigation has been controversial in Lebanon, especially with regards to the question of the appropriate level of involvement and cooperation that is warranted from Lebanese officials. Since the initiation of the investigation, the court has indicted four members of the Hezbollah group, which maintains that it was not involved in the bombing.

On Monday, the president of the tribunal, Judge David Baragwanath [official website], issued a statement defending his program [JURIST report] following a visit to Lebanon. Tribunal Vice President Judge Ralph Riachi [official website] accompanied Baragwanath on the visit, where they saw a spirit of compliance that made them optimistic about their chances for success. The Tribunal is composed of professional judges selected internationally and includes senior members of the Lebanese judiciary. Baragwanath promised to conclude their job "as swiftly as fairness allows." The STL has faced great difficulty [JURIST report] trying to arrest the members of Hezbollah in Lebanon where the Shiite militia Hezbollah, backed by Iran, is the country's most powerful political force. If the trial commences, this would be the first trial in absentia at an international court since the prosecution of Nazis during the Nuremberg trials.

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