UN Hariri tribunal to begin work March 1

UN Hariri tribunal to begin work March 1

[JURIST] The UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon [official website] will begin work on March 1, according to the Tribunal's Registrar, Robin Vincent [official profile, PDF]. The March 1 start date for the court, established at the request of the Lebanese government after the February 14, 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive], will coincide with the scheduled arrival of prosecutor Daniel Bellemare [Ya Libnan profile] in The Hague. In a televised interview on Monday, Vincent said that in May, the Tribunal will ask the Lebanese government to transfer four generals [Daily Star report] being held on suspicion of involvement in Hariri's assassination to the court's custody.

The Special Tribunal will consist of 11 international and Lebanese judges, be based at The Hague and have a budget of $51 million for its first year [JURIST reports]. While no indictments have been issued, Bellemare, a Canadian prosecutor who headed the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) [authorizing resolution; UN materials], believes a criminal network was behind the plot [JURIST report]. The investigation has increased tensions between Lebanon and Syria as several IIIC reports have implicated Syrian officials in Hariri's death [JURIST report].