The Prosecutor of the United Nations-backed tribunal set up to try the perpetrators of recent political killings in Lebanon, including the February 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, met today with the country’s Justice Minister.
Daniel Bellemare told Minister Ibrahim Najjar in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, of his eagerness to continue the excellent working relations between the Ministry and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, an independent body based in The Hague, Netherlands.
Mr. Bellemare also thanks Mr. Najjar for his crucial role in concluding and implementing the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between the Lebanese Government and the Office of the Prosecutor signed in June.
The Tribunal, which began its operations in March, was set up following a probe by an independent international commission after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the massive car bombing that killed Mr. Hariri and 22 others in 2005 was seriously flawed and that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded the attack.
The Prosecutor, who headed the independent probe, arrived in Lebanon yesterday for a seven-day visit, stressing his commitment to carry out his work with total independence.
The investigation “is making progress and proceeding at full pace,” he said after meeting with President Michel Sleiman yesterday.
Mr. Bellemare also thanked the leader for Lebanon’s continued support for the court, congratulated him on the formation of the new Government of national unity, and expressed “his deep appreciation for the valuable support and cooperation” of the Lebanese authorities.
“Prosecutor Bellemare stressed the commitment of the Tribunal to pursue its mandate in total independence, fairness, objectivity and professionalism, with resolve and determination, in order to meet the expectations of the victims and the Lebanese people by establishing the truth behind the assassinations that took place in the country and ensure that justice is done,” his office said in a news release.
“He emphasized that the process he is leading is purely evidence-driven and that the people of Lebanon deserve nothing less than an outcome that cannot be overcast with doubts about the credibility and the integrity of the justice rendered by the Tribunal.”
He stressed that the ultimate goal of the Tribunal, beyond finding out the truth and ensuring that justice is done, is to help Lebanon and its people in their continued efforts to further promote the rule of law and in their fight against impunity.