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Hariri tribunal indictment to be made public “in a matter of days…if not hours” | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Well informed Lebanese sources have told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the indictment is now ready” with regards to the long-awaited indictment expected to be issued by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon [STL] that is investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The well-informed source, who has been following up on the latest developments regarding the Hariri tribunal, also revealed that “UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was briefed on the content of this indictment, and the UN Office of Legal Affairs is now in possession of this.” The source added that “this indictment is expected to be made public in a matter of days…if not hours.”

Well-informed sources had previously stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that the STL was on the verge of submitting a request to the Lebanese government to indict 5 alleged members of Hezbollah. The same source added that the identity of these 5 defendants would remain secret for a specific period of time before their identities are ultimately revealed at a later date. The sources also confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that this request would most likely be made to Lebanese officials sometime in the next two days, adding that “the announcement of the defendants’ names will take place very, very soon.”

As for the vast amount of contradictory information that has been leaked about the timing of the issuance of this indictment, and claims that some political and judicial figures in Lebanon had received copies of this indictment, newly appointed Lebanese Attorney General Said Mirza stressed that he had not received any indictment from the Hariri tribunal, and that he has no information about when any such indictment will be issued.

In this regard, a well-informed Lebanese legal source ruled out “the Lebanese authorities receiving a copy of the indictment before its issuance is announced by The Hague.” The legal source stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “to be sure, Lebanon will be the first country to be informed of the content of the indictment, and it is no secret that the copy that will be sent to Lebanon will include a list of demands, which may include a list of wanted figures, or figures that must be brought before the STL to testify.” The source added that “we have no information about when this indictment will be issued, for this issue will be decided by the STL and the pre-trial judge (Daniel Fransen), although the atmosphere suggests that now is the time [for the issuance of this indictment]…particularly as we are nearing the end of the time limit that Judge Fransen said he needed to conduct his [pre-trial] review”

As for the International Criminal Court [ICC] in The Hague, it refused to comment on the issuance or content of any indictment, informing Asharq Al-Awsat that “the STL is carrying out a judicial task, and the legal considerations and the soundness of the tribunal’s [legal] procedures means that the STL alone possesses the legitimacy to determine when the pre-trial review has been completed, and therefore when the indictment will be announced.”

For his part, a source close to newly-appointed Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati denied that the office of the prime minister had received any indictment or document from the STL. The source stressed that “the prime minister did not receive any indictment, not from the Lebanese judiciary nor from any other source, and the Lebanese Attorney General has also publicly stated that he has not received anything in this regard.”

The prime ministerial source also stressed that “what has been said about Prime Minister Mikati meeting with a UN official and discussing the indictment is completely untrue. The prime minister has only met with UN representative for Lebanon Michael Williams, and the subject of this meeting was solely UN resolution 1701, which is something that Williams also confirmed.”

As for whether the governmental committee that is drafting the ministerial statement has agreed on a satisfactory statement about the Hariri tribunal, the source revealed that “Prime Minister Mikati thinks it proper that the portion [of the statement] dealing with this should be left to the end of this statement, to ensure that this issue does not overshadow all the other issues.”

Future bloc MP Ziad al-Kadri stressed that “the international tribunal and the timing of the issuance of its indictment have nothing to do with politics…because STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare filed two amendments to pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen, and he said that the second amendment would be his last. In addition to this, nobody knew when a government would be formed in Lebanon; therefore the STL’s legal procedure has been purely professional.”

Al-Kadri also said that “whether the indictment is issued sooner or later, nobody can surrender the blood of the martyrs, and nobody can – legally speaking – cancel the international resolution [establishing the STL].”

On the other hand, Change and Reform bloc MP Alain Aoun stressed that “the issue surrounding this indictment is extremely complex, and the issue is not how to find a way to address this indictment in the ministerial statement but how to find a way to address this indictment itself.” He added that “this problem (the indictment) must be put before the international community, and Lebanon should enter talks with the UN on the way that the investigation is being conducted and the subject of false witnesses.” However Aoun also acknowledged that “legally speaking, the STL cannot be cancelled, but what we are doing is clarifying Lebanon’s position on this.”

Aoun also said that “we are seeking not to allow sedition to enter the country from this point [the STL].” He added “of course we support justice, but this must follow the right course. This issue requires objectivity and rationality.”