Hariri tribunal to announce a long recess

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Saad Hariri, son of slain former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri, speaks during an interview at the Hotel Des Indes in the Hague on January 16, 2014. Saad Hariri is attending the trial in absentia of four Hezbollah members accused of assassinating his father in a massive car bomb explosion in downtown Beirut on February 14, 2005. Hariri spoke after the opening day of the trial before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in a suburb just outside The Hague. (Photo: AFP-Jan Hennop)

Published Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which started its sessions last month, is expected to announce today a three-month recess, sources in the tribunal told Al-Akhbar.

On Tuesday, the STL Trial Chamber took the decision to join the case of suspect Hassan Merhi to the cases of the other 4 suspects (Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Hussein Oneissi, and Assad Sabra), accused of participating in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.

Merhi is considered to be the fifth suspect, so logic would dictate that all five men would face the same charges.

As a result, the court met and decided to join all cases together, although all parties involved, including the judges and prosecutors, already knew they were dealing with the same case. Such a process took weeks, and after a decision was finally reached, the court will now have to go into recess for several months in order to allow the defense team of the new suspect to examine the file of investigations, which in this case consists of over 750,000 pages and scores of electronic files.

Yesterday, the court announced its decision to join the cases and it is expected to announce later today that it will adjourn its session until next summer at the earliest.

Judicial sources close to the court pointed out that defense chief Francois Roux had already regretted this type of procedure, warning that it is time consuming, meaning the verdict would take at least three years.

The sources are concerned the trial would be adjourned further in the coming months and years because there are ten additional people on a list of suspects who are to be accused.

In a statement issued yesterday, the tribunal announced that its chamber heard submissions from the Prosecution, Defence Counsel, as well as the Registrar and the Head of the Defence Office.

Following deliberations by the Judges at the closing of the hearing, Presiding judge of the Trial Chamber, David Re, said: “In these circumstances, the interests of justice must favour joining the two cases. The Trial Chamber has therefore decided that the two cases should be joined and tried on the same indictment.”

The hearing was subsequently adjourned until today to “discuss the practicalities in pursuing a joint trial, including the length of adjournment necessary to allow Merhi's counsel adequate time to prepare.”

Mohamed Oweini, Merhi defense council, had already expressed his views about joining the cases, stating that “it might be the most convenient procedure,” but he has reservations about “the possibility of a conflict of interest with the other cases,” calling for a trial that complies with “equity conditions and provides enough time and facilities”.

He also said the rest of the preliminary stage should go forward before the pre- trial chamber judge rather than the trial chamber.

(Al-Akhbar)

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

you mean the idiots intend to continue the farce and make fools of themselves?

go on goons nothing is sweeter than jerks insulting themselves and making fools of themselves

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