STL Prosecutor Summons Lebanese Authorities
By: Omar Nashabe
Published Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Chief Prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) Daniel Bellemare has requested that tribunal judges summon the “Lebanese authorities” to question them on steps taken to arrest those accused of assassinating former prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
Among the evidence Bellemare is using to support his request is an alleged Time magazine interview with one of the suspects indicted in the assassination.
Time claims the suspect said Lebanese authorities knew of his whereabouts, but could not arrest him. Hezbollah has already accused the tribunal of fabricating the interview.
The chief prosecutor’s office asked STL judges to postpone the trial in absentia of the four accused of assassinating Hariri, until it has clearly established that adequate efforts were made by the Lebanese government to apprehend the suspects.
According to Bellemare, the conditions in the STL rules on procedures and evidence have not been met to this day. “Not enough has been done to effect the arrests because the Lebanese authorities have either been unable or unwilling to do so,” he said.
Bellemare has therefore asked the STL trial chamber, headed by Judge Robert Roth, to summon the Lebanese authorities before the court on November 11 to hear their testimony.
“The three reports received thus far from the Prosecutor General of the Lebanese Republic show that not all reasonable steps have been taken by the Lebanese authorities to effect the arrests,” Bellemare wrote in the memo.
Roth however rejected the request, indicating that he will decide whether to summon them at a later date.
Bellemare had filed a request for cooperation with the Lebanese authorities on 7 October 2011, which included a “comprehensive description” of the measures expected and an offer of assistance in finding the accused’s exact location.
He asked the court to make sure that Lebanese authorities are implementing the request before taking the decision to go ahead with the trials in absentia.
Al-Akhbar learned on Tuesday that the Lebanese authorities responded to the October 7 request a month later, confirming that “all reasonable measures” have been taken to implement the arrest warrants, without result.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.