Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned this week’s attack against three staff members of the United Nations-backed tribunal set up to try suspects in the 2005 murders of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others, calling such acts of interference and intimidation “unacceptable.”
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Mr. Ban stressed in a statement issued by his spokesperson yesterday, is an independent court set up at the request of the Lebanese Government and with a clear Security Council mandate.
“It is an important tool to uncover the truth and end impunity,” he said.
On Wednesday, two investigators from the Office of the Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal and their interpreter were attending a pre-arranged meeting at a doctor’s office in Beirut as part of the investigation when a large group of people “showed up unexpectedly” and violently attacked the three staff, the Office said in a news release.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, several items belonging to the staff were stolen during the attack. The Lebanese army extracted the three staff members and brought them back safely to the Tribunal’s office where they were provided with medical attention.
In his statement, the Secretary-General called on all parties to refrain from interfering in the Special Tribunal’s work and from prejudging its outcome.
He also underscored the importance of The Hague-based Special Tribunal carrying out its work safely and securely, commending Lebanese authorities for their swift action in opening an inquiry into the Wednesday incident.
The Prosecutor’s Office denounced the use of violence, emphasizing that the investigation into the Hariri attack will continue undeterred by Wednesday’s incident.
The Tribunal is an independent body that was set up following a probe by the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the massive car bombing in February 2005 that killed Mr. Hariri and the others was seriously flawed and that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded the attack.
The investigation of the murders is being carried out under the guidance of the Tribunal’s Prosecutor, Daniel Bellemare, a Canadian prosecutor and former head of the IIIC.