UN-backed tribunal for Lebanon killings swears in officials, adopts rules

UN-backed tribunal for Lebanon killings swears in officials, adopts rules

Special Tribunal for Lebanon President Antonio Cassese of Italy
The United Nations-backed tribunal to try the perpetrators of a massive car bomb blast that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri has appointed its main officials and adopted rules of procedures and evidence, the court announced today.

“The Special Tribunal for Lebanon now has the necessary tools to deal promptly and efficiently with the first files concerning the Hariri case, which the Lebanese authorities are expected to transfer in the next few weeks,” its President, Antonio Cassese of Italy, said in a statement.

In consultation with President Cassese, who was the first president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed François Roux of France as the head of the defence office.

The Tribunal, an independent body located in The Hague, is designed to try those accused of recent political murders in Lebanon, particularly the February 2005 assassination of Mr. Hariri and 22 others in downtown Beirut.

Daniel Bellemare, a Canadian prosecutor and former head of the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) into the murders, assumed his office as Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal when it began operations earlier this month.

The judges and registrar of the court have already been sworn in as well, and rules governing detention and the directive on assignment of defence counsel have been adopted, the court said.

According to the Tribunal, President Cassese and Daniel Fransen of Belgium, the Pre-Trial Judge, will soon take up their duties on a full-time basis.

The other judges, for the Trial and Appeals Chambers, will take office on a date to be determined by the Secretary-General, in consultation with the President, and their names will be announced once all security measures are in place, the Tribunal said.

The investigation continues under the guidance of Prosecutor Bellemare, and a trial will take place when he has sufficient evidence is in place, according to the court.