The international tribunal being set up to try those responsible for political killings in Lebanon, particularly the 2005 attack that killed former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, has moved into its start-up phase, according to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
All actions relating to the tribunal’s preparatory phase have been undertaken, including the signing an agreement with the Netherlands to host the proceedings and the identification of premises there, Mr. Ban says in his latest report to the Security Council, which details the steps taken since he was authorized to establish the Special Tribunal for Lebanon by a Council resolution last year.
The selection of the judges, the prosecutor and the registrar has also been completed and a draft budget will be submitted soon to the tribunal’s management committee.
In regard to financing, the Secretary-General states that adequate funds for the start-up have been deposited into a trust fund made up of contributions of UN Member States.
“I am confident that the contributions received, together with other expected contributions, will meet the budgetary requirements for the establishment and the first 12 months of operations of the Tribunal,” he says.
As of 27 February, the trust fund held nearly $30 million, with additional firm pledges totalling over $16 million, he states.
The Security Council asked the Secretary-General to set up the court after Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora asked the 15-member body to put the tribunal into effect as a matter of urgency because all domestic options had been exhausted, due to the country’s ongoing political crisis.
The tribunal will follow on the work of the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC), which is charged with probing the murder of Mr. Hariri, who was killed along with 22 others in a massive car bombing in Beirut on 14 February 2005.
Once it is formally established, it will be up to the tribunal 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.