The fig leaf and the justice of the strong
By: Pierre Abisaab
Published Friday, May 30, 2014
After all the scandals, mistakes, resignations, leaks, suspicions and laws passed in accordance with the political winds, after compromising civil peace and manipulating the stability of the region, after wasting all this time, energy and money, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) finally found a real, tangible, “defendant” in flesh and blood who appeared before it via videolink. Alas, it did not know how to keep him.
Instead of spoiling him rotten and taking good care of him, instead of encouraging him to express himself freely while it listens attentively and tries to understand him, at least ostensibly to save face, the STL ran him off, losing its chance to be a real court that faces a living breathing defendant, not a phantom. A defendant that it basically manufactured to fend against its impotence, deadly paradoxes and dubious background.
Ibrahim al-Amin accepted this fraudulent game and appeared before the court but it did not know how to keep him. It accused him of “practicing journalism,” in a coded language of course, and put him on trial without a clear law, against the spirit of the laws and the logic of the laws in democratic countries that protect freedom of the press.
He came humbly, despite all the reasons he has to be suspicious. Despite the absurdity of the position and all it entails in terms of arrogance, force, humiliation, symbolic repression, psychological threat, authoritarian terror, political, financial and security blackmail, he went just to tell the tribunal the truth about it openly and to its face.
But the tribunal did not dare listen to him. It stuttered like an awkward child despite the dangerous mind behind it. It trembled like a leaf in the wind despite its might, complicated mechanisms and international immunity. It did not tolerate a statement that it could have easily allowed and turned into a sweet show demonstrating its “fairness.”
The only response that Judge Nicola Lettieri had to accusations of unfairness, bias, massacres, injustice and colonial terrorism in our colleague Ibrahim al-Amin’s statement against the hegemonic forces responsible for establishing this international tribunal and imposing it on us to be used as an instrument of their tyranny and domination in the Arab world is that the statement is not relevant to the STL case.
What kind of court does not allow the defendant to defend himself? What kind of international court does not care about victims? What is left of it and of its legitimacy? What kind of judge deviates from his impartiality to take sides against the defendant, misunderstanding him, interrupting, mocking, distorting and disparaging? Here we are, returning to the beginning, the STL vs. Al-Jadeed TV and Al-Akhbar. What do you do when your enemy is your judge?
The tribunal claims to be working to unearth the truth at any cost, even at the expense of people’s security, wealth and stability. At the same time, it seeks to shush the media which unearths the truth in its own way. Yes, courts of exception have their own logic, their truth is different from ours. They are abstract entities, disdainful of individuals, countries and national institutions. They operate outside any realistic, local context and considerations and organic laws debasing the interests of communities, peoples and individuals.
In his exchange with the head of the defense office Francois Roux yesterday, judge Lettieri went as far as snubbing French laws and jurisprudence that prevent assigning a defendant an attorney against his will. “We are not in France here,” he said scornfully. Where are we then? This is the issue!
The judge’s arrogance in dealing with Al-Akhbar’s editor-in-chief is not surprising. But it is another conclusive proof that reinforces our fears and doubts about the impartiality and justice of the STL. This court that usurped national sovereignty and has the power and ability to crush anyone it wants, and however it wants unchecked,, reminds one of the story of the wolf that accused the sheep of muddying his water. Since he wants to eat it and has the ability to do so, he will find all kinds of “logical” excuses to justify his action.
The fig leaf fell yesterday somewhere between Monteverde and the Hague. All the STL needed was this farce - the farce of degrading journalists and media institutions with the charge of publishing - to prove to us and to the public its frailty, bias and suspect political agenda operating under the guise of justice. The justice of the strong is always the rightful justice. But this has not prevented honorable people, people who believe in just causes, from resisting oppression until the final moment.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.