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Secretary-General moves to set up judges’ selection panel for Lebanon tribunal

Secretary-General moves to set up judges’ selection panel for Lebanon tribunal

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he has begun the process of establishing a selection panel to recommend to him the names of judges to serve on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is being set up to prosecute those responsible for the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

In his latest report on the progress of the Tribunal, Mr. Ban says the selection panel will be formed and take up its work by next month, and he expects to be able to appoint the judges – after receiving the panel’s recommendations – by the end of the year.

The selection panel will comprise two judges, either sitting or retired from an international tribunal, and a representative of the Secretary-General.

The Lebanese Government has already forwarded a list of the 12 judges proposed by the country’s Supreme Council of the Judiciary, and Mr. Ban says the list will remain sealed until the selection process of all judges starts.

UN Legal Counsel Nicolas Michel sent a letter to all Member States last month asking them to submit candidates for Tribunal judges by no later than 24 September.

According to the Tribunal’s statute, the chambers will consist of one international pre-trial judge; three judges to serve in the trial chamber (one Lebanese and two international); five judges to serve in the appeals chamber (two Lebanese and three international); and two alternate judges (one Lebanese and one international).

The judges of the trial chamber and those of the appeals chamber will then each elect a presiding judge to conduct the proceedings in their chamber, with the presiding judge of the appeals chamber serving as president of the Tribunal.

Mr. Ban notes in the report that 51 per cent of the costs of the Tribunal will be met by voluntary contributions from UN Member States, with the remaining 49 per cent to be funded by the Lebanese Government. The UN Secretariat has created a trust fund to receive contributions from the world’s countries.

The Tribunal is forecast to cost $35 million to run in its first 12 months, followed by $45 million in its second year and $40 million in its third year. Between 415 and 430 posts are expected to be needed to staff the court.

Mr. Michel led a delegation to the Netherlands last month to visit possible sites for the Tribunal and to hold talks with Dutch authorities on the measures necessary to establish the court’s seat, according to the report.

The Tribunal is being set up to deal with the assassination of Mr. Hariri, who was killed along with 22 others in a massive car bombing in downtown Beirut in February 2005.

Once it is formally established, it will be up to the court to determine whether other political killings in Lebanon since October 2004 were connected to Mr. Hariri’s assassination and could therefore be dealt with by the Tribunal.