By Patrick Galey
BEIRUT: The office for the prosecutor in the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) sought on Thursday to clarify what it termed “inaccurate” media coverage, even as new and unconfirmed reports regarding its former chief investigator emerged. Radia Ashouri, spokesperson for STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare, in an email seen by The Daily Star, said that in spite of several recent corrections published in the wake of misquotations, errors “continue to appear in other press articles and news reports that are based on the initial inaccurate reports.”
Ashouri’s comments came in the wake of an interview given by Bellemare to Future News, aired Wednesday, in which the prosecutor corrected previous reports on the progress of evidence gathering and the prospect of looming indictments.
“It was reported that I had a full file, that I was ready to move an indictment. We do have information, but we are not ready to file an indictment,” said Bellemare, who recently returned to his duties in The Hague following time off in his native Canada for health reasons.
“Now what I have to satisfy myself is that the evidence that we have now is evidence that is admissible in court according to international standards that are contained now in the rules of procedure,” Bellemare said.
Media intrigue in the tribunal, which aims to bring to justice those responsible for the assassination of five-time Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri in 2005, has revived recently and allegations from former suspects have increased antipathy between the case’s interested parties.
Responsibility for Hariri’s killing has been widely laid at Syria’s door, and despite repeated denials of involvement from Damascus, reports of the country’s participation persist.
On Thursday, the daily Al-Akhbar reported that Syria had filed a formal complaint to the UN over the conduct of former chief investigator Detlev Mehlis, who Damascus claims had tried to frame Syrian figures.
The paper quoted an official diplomatic source in New York, alleging that Mehlis “fabricated, forged and created politicized information to hit at Syria and its reputation.”
The complaint also claimed Mehlis and his then-aide Gerhard Lehmann “came up with wrong information aimed at involving Syria at any cost in that heinous crime,” said the source.
In April, four former Lebanese generals – held in custody for four years – were released upon Bellemare’s recommendation. Media speculation has ensued ever since, catalyzed by comments made by two of the generals – former ISF head Ali al-Hajj and former General Security chief Jamil al-Sayyed – that the Lebanese judiciary had failed in its cooperation with the STL.
Ashouri clarified the prosecution’s official stance on the men, citing comments made by Bellemare. “The officers were not tried and therefore there was no decision to acquit them and to pronounce them guilty,” said Bellemare. “Their current status is the status of anyone else; they are presumed innocent and if I find evidence against them I will knock at their doors.”
Ashouri sought to distance the office of the prosecutor from reports claiming Bellemare had acquired irrefutable evidence during the course of his investigations. “I am optimistic and we are aggressively pursuing our investigative efforts,” Bellemare had officially said, some way short of that which had been reported.
By Patrick Galey
Background - خلفية
On 13 December 2005 the Government of the Lebanese Republic requested the UN to establish a tribunal of an international character to try all those who are alleged responsible for the attack of 14 february 2005 that killed the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others. The United Nations and the Lebanese Republic consequently negotiated an agreement on the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
Chronology - Chronologie
Détenus - Detainees - المعتقلون
International Criminal Justice
Videos - فيديو
- Now Lebanon : Crowds Gather to Show Support for International Tribunal, August 4, 2010
- IRIS Institute:La creation du TSL est-elle justifiee? - June 18, 2009
- Al Manar : Interview with Ali Hajj right after his release - April 30, 2009
- Al Manar: Summary of Jamil Al Sayyed's press conference, April 30, 2009
- AFP, Freed Lebanese prisoner speaks out - April 30, 2009
- OTV : exclusive interview with Jamil Sayyed - April 30, 2009
- Al Jazeeera English : Crowds celebrate Hariri suspects'release - April 29, 2009
- OTV : report about Ali el Hajj - March 18, 2009
Liens - Links - مواقع ذات صلة
Frederic Megret, McGill University, 2008. A special tribunal for Lebanon: the UN Security Council and the emancipation of International Criminal Justice
International Center for Transitional Justice Handbook on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, April 10, 2008
Conférence de presse de Nicolas Michel, 19 Sept 2007
Conférence de presse de Nicolas Michel, 27 Mars 2008
Département d'Etat américain
* 2009 Human Rights report
* 2008 Human Rights report
* 2007 Human Rights report
* 2006 Human Rights report
* 2005 Human Rights report
ICG - International Crisis Group
The Hariri Tribunal: Separate the Political and the Judicial, 19 July, 2007. [Fr]
HCSS - Hague Centre for strategic studies
Hariri, Homicide and the Hague
Human Rights Watch
* Hariri Tribunal can restore faith in law, 11 may 2006
* Letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, april 27, 2006
* STL insufficient without wider action to combat impunity
* Liban : le Tribunal de tous les dangers, mai 2007
* Jeu de mecano
Courrier de l'ACAT - Wadih Al Asmar
Le Tribunal spécial pour le Liban : entre espoir et inquiétude
La justice penale internationale pour le Liban : bienfait ou malediction?
Nadim Shedadi and Elizabeth Wilmshurt, Chatham House
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon : the UN on Trial?, July 2007
Issam Michael Saliba, Law Library of Congress
International Tribunals, National Crimes and the Hariri Assassination : a novel development in International Criminal Law, June 2007
Mona Yacoubian, Council on Foreign Relations
Linkages between Special UN Tribunal, Lebanon, and Syria, June 1, 2007