STL Leaks: The Prosecution’s Surprise Witnesses

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (www.al-akhbar.com).

Al-Akhbar Management

The investigation into the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri has been considered suspect on many fronts. (Photo: Haytham al-Moussawi)

Published Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The prosecution in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has promised that it still has some hidden cards to play, the most prominent of which is a long list of witnesses that has been leaked to Al-Akhbar.

Since its inception in 2005, the investigation into the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri has been considered suspect on many fronts. Questions were raised as to who really controls the process and the background of the individuals carrying out the investigation.

After the STL was formed to conduct the trial, these suspicions were not allayed, particularly given that the indictment was based on the testimonies of hundreds of witnesses and based on evidence related to cell phone networks.

The color-coded phone communications networks that the case centers on were developed by Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) officers in 2005, indirectly implicating Hezbollah in the crime.

According to the official schedule, the tribunal is set to begin its proceedings in March, when the prosecution will lay out their case, backing it up with evidence and witnesses.

The defense team is currently studying its options, given the short amount of time provided to examine the case and develop a strategy, not to mention the pressures they have been subjected to in order to force them to provide “legal cover” to what is essentially a political trial.

The tribunal’s rules grant the defense team as much time as needed to develop their case, in addition to requiring the Lebanese government to cooperate with them just as it did with the prosecution’s office.

But close observers of the tribunal say there is no comparison between the kind of resources made available to the prosecution and the defense. For all purposes, the prosecution (and the preceding investigative committee) have been working on the case since 2005.

The defense has the right to request postponing the trial – and in fact they are considering such an action – but the head judge is under pressure from countries funding the tribunal that they want to see results soon or the money will stop.

In past years, Al-Akhbar, along with Lebanese, Arab, European, US, Canadian, and Australian media outlets, have revealed much of the internal proceedings of the case, publishing leaked documents from both the investigation and the STL.

This may be due to the fact that most of the people conducting the investigation and the prosecution have ties to Western intelligence agencies, with whom they continue to cooperate.

The various politicians, judges, and security personnel involved in the investigation and tribunal have been promising us from the very beginning that they have in their possession undisputed evidence that will prove their case.

They promised “surprises” that would establish the guilt of the four Lebanese generals wrongfully imprisoned in the early days of the investigation, only for them to be released in April 2009 for lack of any evidence against them.

Similar promises were made when the Syrian regime was later accused of the crime, only to be exonerated and replaced by Hezbollah as the main suspect.

Again, the same people are playing the same game, claiming that despite the apparent weakness of the case, the prosecution possesses “surprises” that will prove the accusations outlined by prosecutor Daniel Bellemare 18 months ago beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Most prominent among these “trump cards” that the prosecution has up its sleeve is an army of witnesses that, according to official estimates, number close to 600, of which the defense will receive only 20 percent of their testimonies.

However, sources confirmed to Al-Akhbar that the number of witnesses is actually far higher, with “several hundred” more, including politicians and a variety of experts and technicians.

They will be joined by others such as witnesses at the scene of the crime who will help recreate it. There are also owners of cell phone shops and car rental companies among the witnesses.

Al-Akhbar has gained access to a list of witnesses that the prosecution plans to present at the trial to help prove their case. A sample of the list can be found on the Arabic-language website. The roster of witnesses shows the nature of the prosecution’s evidence, which is circumstantial at best.

(Al-Akhbar)

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

"This may be due to the fact that most of the people conducting the investigation and the prosecution have ties to Western intelligence agencies, with whom they continue to cooperate."

Wow! That just great journalism!

how about....
"Al-Akhbar has gained access to a list of witnesses that the prosecution plans to present at the trial to help prove their case. A sample of the list can be found on the Arabic-language website. The roster of witnesses shows the nature of the prosecution’s evidence, which is circumstantial at best."

Makes the Huffington Post look like child play compared to the great Al Akhbar and its immense resources!!

Pathetic journalism at best!

I'm sorry, I seem to be lost.
I'm looking for the 5th collumn, could you be so kind and point it out to me?

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