Lebanon tribunal set to begin work next week, says UN report

26 February 2009

The international tribunal being set up to try those responsible for political killings in Lebanon is ready to begin its work next week, says a new United Nations report released today.

“All the necessary measures have been taken for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to commence functioning this Sunday, 1 March,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in his latest report to the Security Council.

The Special Tribunal is designed to try those accused of recent political murders in Lebanon, particularly the February 2005 assassination of Rafiq Hariri in a massive car bombing in downtown Beirut that killed 22 others.

The probe into the killings is being carried out by the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC), headed by Daniel Bellemare, a Canadian prosecutor.

According to the report, Mr. Bellemare will assume office as Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal on 1 March and continue his investigations from The Hague in the Netherlands, where the court is based.

The judges of the trial and appeals chambers will assume their responsibilities on a date to be determined by the Secretary-General, in consultation with the President of the Special Tribunal.

Meanwhile, the courtroom for the trials is expected to be ready for use by early 2010.

UN Legal Counsel Patricia O’Brien will attend the ceremony this Sunday in the Netherlands to mark the start of the Tribunal.

Mr. Ban pledges in his report, the last before the Tribunal begins functioning as an independent judicial body, that he will continue to ensure that the court is able to achieve its mandate in the most effective manner.

“However, the cooperation of all Member States will remain crucial for the Special Tribunal to be successful,” he adds.


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