15.02.08 - LEBANON/JUSTICE - SPECIAL TRIBUNAL FOR LEBANON IS GETTING READY

The Hague, 15 February 2008 (FH) - The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, announced on 14 February, creation of board of management of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).
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The Court will be based on the model of the tribunal for Sierra Leone.

The site of this tribunal has already been chosen, in the suburbs of The Hague, The Netherlands, in Leidschendam-Voorburg.

The board of management, composed of the principal donor countries, will have the responsibility of the budget of the tribunal, financed at 49% by Lebanon and 51% by voluntary contributions.

The announcement came in the wake of several demonstrations in Beirut to commemorate third anniversary since the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri on 14 February 2005 in a car bomb attack.

Mr Ban Ki-Moon urged prosecution of all those who financed, planned and carried out this odious political assassination and other terrorist attacks in Lebanon.

Syria, former occupying power of Lebanon, will be targeted by the investigation.

At the initiative of France and the United States, the Security Council had set up an international investigation commission.

On 30 May 2007, the UN passed resolution 1757 establishing the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

The tribunal's beginning is planned for the second half of 2008. The Attorney General will be Canadian Daniel Bellemarre, currently in charge of the international investigation commission.

In December 2007, the United Nations selected the judges, but their names have remained confidential, for safety reasons.

According to sources, France and the United States have chosen not to nominate any of their nationals to key positions of the tribunal.

For its part, Italy refused to support a candidate, whereas the former president of the tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Antonio Cassese, was seen as a potential candidate.

Other sources indicate that except for Lebanon, no Arab country will introduce candidates. According to the statute, four judges will be Lebanese and six foreigners.

According to the Kuwaiti newspaper, Al Seyassah, the United Nations legal adviser, Nicolas Michel, requested last month the Attorney General of Lebanon to evacuate Lebanese judges to serve in the tribunal and their families for safety reasons.

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© Hirondelle News Agency