This blog of the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) aims at granting the public opinion access to all information related to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon : daily press review in english, french and arabic ; UN documents, etc...

Ce blog du
Centre Libanais des droits humains (CLDH) a pour objectif de rendre accessible à l'opinion publique toute l'information relative au Tribunal Spécial pour le Liban : revue de presse quotidienne en anglais, francais et arabe ; documents onusiens ; rapports, etc...


July 22, 2010 - Now Lebanon - Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah held a press conference on Thursday night to address reports on the upcoming Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL)’s indictment.

“We have to be aware that Lebanon was dragged into a very sensitive and delicate phase. But Lebanon is going through this new phase in light of the pending Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) indictment.

Some were surprised why we addressed the issue of the STL. We have discussed our right to defend ourselves, but some have considered that those who defend themselves are condemning themselves, and this is a Lebanese creation. All facts that Hezbollah has obtained since 2008, even before [some of its] members were called in for interrogation [by the STL], the court’s indictment was [decided on] but [not announced] for political reasons. All talks that [STL Prosecutor General Daniel] Bellemare held in Washington and France point out that the indictment’s content was written.

Before he traveled to Washington [in May], Prime Minister Saad Hariri visited me. Out of his keenness to ensure national unity, Hariri told me [during the meeting] that an STL indictment will be issued and will accuse some members of Hezbollah, but the party is not connected [to the 2005 assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri].

Everyone is talking about the upcoming indictment and agrees that [Hezbollah members will be accused], even before the indictment is issued. No one should simplify things and act as if he is unaware of [the content of the indictment]. The US, along with other countries, started talking about what will happen in Lebanon [after the indictment is issued].

All those who objected to my speech last Friday know that they want Hezbollah to remain silent [about the STL]. We reject the idea that Hezbollah members might be indicted. We consider that there is a huge plan targeting Lebanon, the Resistance and the Middle East. This project directly targets the Resistance. I do not confirm that an indictment will be issued in September. The Resistance in Lebanon is an obstacle for the US, and [the US] believes this obstacle needs to be eliminated.

There are two [possible] STL indictments: the first is that it will not accuse anyone in Syria nor any of the four Lebanese generals [previously held in custody]. The second will accuse undisciplined Hezbollah members.

I call on the March 14 leaders to reconsider the choices they made. This is my first demand from March 14. The only one who had the courage to review his stances and admit [his mistakes] was Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt. Second, March 14 politicians should be open to their public and speak with it. They should tell Syria that in 2005, we were very wrong and we almost dragged this country into destruction. No one is asking [March 14] for an apology. When Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun called for normal relations with Syria, [March 14] considered him a traitor. Before I continue with the rest of my ideas, I would like to remind [the March 14 alliance] that in February 14, 2005, it accused and denounced Syria [for killing former PM Rafik Hariri] straight away.

Where did [March 14] take the country? What is the guarantee they won’t drag Lebanon into other ventures. What do Hezbollah, the Shia sect, Syria, Aoun have to do with [March 14’s] accusations and campaigns? I have told PM Saad Hariri that I will accuse Syria of killing [former PM Rafik Hariri] if there is evidence. Syria was isolated [by the West] for years over such accusations.

The March 14 alliance should take responsibility for killing several Syrian workers [after 2005]. Do [March 14 parties] remember they wanted [former] President Emile Lahoud to step down by force in 2005? There is no evidence of Syria’s involvement [in the Hariri assassination]. The bet was that Syria and its allies [in Lebanon] will collapse, after which not only they will be indicted but will be [legally] condemned. I hope [March 14] will stress on turning a new page between Lebanon and Syria and look forward to good relations with Damascus.

I also ask [March 14 figures]: you don’t want to try false witnesses, but those who you accused and treated unjustly, don’t they deserve compensation? The four generals [held in custody over their alleged involvement in Hariri’s murder], don’t they deserve to return to their posts since it was proven they were not linked to the killing? To the Lebanese and the March 14 alliance in particular, [March 14] leaders dragged Lebanon into the most difficult phase ever [between 2005 and 2009]. There was a possibility of civil war everyday in Lebanon. [March 14] want to take Lebanon to the worst places. Do [people] want to keep supporting them?

I also want to say that Hezbollah is not afraid of anything. Those who conspire against the Resistance and against Lebanon are the ones who should worry. I would like to tell some people, who always miscalculated, to make the correct calculations this time.”

Reporters ask questions following the conference:
Can the STL indictment be annulled before even being issued?
Nasrallah: Yes, [March 14] can tell the world that the country cannot bear a crisis, and it can prevent [the indictment from being issued].

Did Aoun ask you to “change the rules of the game” in Christian areas?
Nasrallah: Aoun never addressed the issue when he met me [last week]. This is something I heard from Christian figures last year, warning to be cautious. Aoun never said anything about changing the cabinet or the rules of the game.

Before you said that you respect STL decisions, but now you are voicing your concerns over the STL’s possible indictment?
Nasrallah: [Hezbollah] never said it respected the STL’s decisions. Everyone knows that Hezbollah and the Amal Movement were not given the chance to reflect on the STL issue [before it was approved in the cabinet and before the ministers resigned]. I do not accept anything from the STL unless it has tangible evidence.

What is your take on changing the cabinet?
Nasrallah: Hezbollah will not address the issue of cabinet change before the STL issues its indictment. After the indictment [is issued], we will see what happens.

The Internal Security Forces (ISF) said that three Hezbollah members were collaborating with Israel, then the report changed saying that the three members were “targeted by Israel.” Why did the ISF announce false information at first?
Nasrallah: To be fair, the ISF Information Branch bases its reports on data analysis of phone calls. The Information Branch, as well as the Army Intelligence, called in the suspects and investigated with them but later released them because there was no proof they were collaborating with Israel. The ISF’s Information Branch was wrong. It told Hezbollah that the phone numbers of three Hezbollah members could be [being used to collaborate with Israel]. In Hezbollah, we do not tolerate such issues. We investigated with these three people, and we were certain [they were not involved with Israel].

There are reports that Hezbollah might be engaging in an external war to avoid a domestic one. What is your response?
Nasrallah: We never launched any external war, not before the STL indictment nor after it, even in the 2006 July War. We are a resistance, we defend our territories. Such [reports] are unfounded.

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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.

Liens - Links - مواقع ذات صلة

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, David Schenker , March 30, 2010 . Beirut Spring: The Hariri Tribunal Goes Hunting for Hizballah

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

United Nations
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

Amnesty International
* 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

Georges Corm
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