STL adjourns trial, granting defense team time to prepare

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon adjourned the trial on Wednesday, without coming to an agreement on the length of a recess.

The STL trial chamber had decided on Tuesday to join the case of suspect Hassan Merhi to the cases of the four other suspects accused of participating in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.

All five men are being tried in absentia.

The integration of Merhi’s case means the trial for the five defendants will be postponed to give his defense counsel time to prepare. The tribunal announced on Twitter that it had not yet deliberated how long the adjournment would last.

Merhi’s defense team estimated it would need up to six months to adequately prepare for the trial, the tribunal added.

Trial chamber judge David Re said the STL was concerned with respecting Merhi's right to a fair trial, Naharnet reported.

Merhi’s defense team will now get to examine the investigations files, which consist of over 750,000 pages and scores of electronic documents.

The tribunal also announced that judges would hold regular status conferences to keep the court informed on the situation.

The five suspects - Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Hussein Oneissi, Assad Sabra and Merhi - are known to have affiliations with the powerful Hezbollah movement, which has vehemently denied any involvement in the attack. It accuses the STL of being a US-Israeli project designed to discredit the group.

(Al-Akhbar)

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