Judge at UN-backed Lebanon tribunal demands reasons for detentions

16 April 2009

The continued detention in Lebanon of persons of interest in the bomb blast that killed the country’s former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri must be substantiated before the end of the month, a judge of the United Nations-backed tribunal set up to try the case has said.

Yesterday, Daniel Fransen, the Pre-Trial Judge for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon ordered the prosecutor to file, by 27 April 2009, reasoned submissions stating whether or not he requests the continued holding of those persons, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said today.

Mr. Fransen stressed that that it is a fundamental right, enshrined in all human rights instruments, that any individual arrested or detained be brought promptly before a judge to rule on his or her detention status.

He noted, however, that the Hariri case raised difficult issues of terrorism, and that the judicial record relating to it was particularly complex and voluminous.

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.

It took over from the Beirut-based International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) in the beginning of March 2009.

The investigation of the murders continues under the guidance of Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare, who also headed the probe while the case rested with the IIIC, and a trial will take place when he has sufficient evidence in place.

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Tribunal for Lebanon killings a landmark in ending impunity – UN legal chief

The opening of the special tribunal to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of a massive car bomb blast that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others is a watershed moment in the fight against impunity in the Middle-Eastern country, the United Nations Legal Counsel said today.