Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- The government of Najib Mikati is now engaged in a close race which has come to the fore in recent hours, between the new cabinet’s ministerial statement, which has yet to prepare a satisfactory formula with regards to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and the indictment expected to be issued imminently from the Tribunal’s pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen, who has gathered the views of accompanying judicial and legal references in The Hague. [It is believed that] the indictment will be explicitly clear, and for the first time will reveal the identity of those involved in the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and his companions, including all those who masterminded the crime and executed it.
The U.N.-sponsored tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri is set to issue indictments soon. [It is believed that] the indictment will be explicitly clear, and for the first time will reveal the identity of those involved in the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and his companions, including all those who masterminded the crime and executed it.
If projections are correct this indictment will be issued in early July, before the ministerial statement is completed in its final form, and certainly before the government can act upon it. This projection is supported by the fact that four Lebanese judges, all members of the Special Tribunal, departed for The Hague late last week. This judicial bombshell will perplex the new government and immediately present it with its hardest test, in terms of dealing with the obligations of the resolution and the government’s requirements. Information circulating in the corridors of the court, as reported by Asharq Al-Awsat, suggests that the Tribunal’s pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen Fransen “has enough evidence and proof to enable him to issue a strong and solid indictment, on the basis of documents given to him by the UN prosecutor Daniel Bellemare over three phases, and Fransen subsequently does not need any further additions to strengthen the accusations”.
In this context, a legal source speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat stressed that: “The government of President Mikati cannot evade the requirements of this decision, on the basis of the cooperation agreement between the Lebanese judiciary, the office of the International Tribunal, and the office of the International Attorney General (Daniel Bellemare), signed in Beirut in the spring of 2009, during the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, under the approval of Hezbollah ministers and the March 8th ministerial team”.
The legal source stressed that “the Lebanese judiciary representing the public prosecutor must carry out all that is required in terms of the indictment, whether in relation to notifications, or the implementation of arrest warrants for potential defendants, Lebanese and non-Lebanese, residing on Lebanese territory”. He said that “this government, or any other government, cannot choose between accepting or rejecting such cooperation. Here the matter of rejection does not only mean Lebanon unilaterally denying the agreement it entered into with the Tribunal, against the backdrop of UN sponsorship, but it also means a rejection of international resolutions and the international community, which would have serious implications for the Lebanese state as a whole”. In the opinion of the aforementioned source: “immediately after the issuance of the indictment, and when the political and judicial references are provided with a copy detailing those who will be charged with involvement in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, either directly, or as an accomplice or instigator, Lebanon will be under the international microscope, and it will be expected to act in accordance with its commitments and apply them, rather than issue draft texts that have no connection with reality, and lead the country to destruction”.
At this time, Justice Minister Chakib Kortbawi stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the council of ministers is the body that will approve the mechanism in which Lebanon will deal with the International Tribunal, out of respect to international resolutions and international legitimacy”. He stressed the need “not to pre-empt the ministerial statement, and to refrain from speculation and predictions that can clutter people’s minds”. He wished for everyone to “be calm and wait for the statement to be completed, as it will soon come out into the open”. He stressed that “provisions must be concluded before seeing the work of the new government”.