JUSTICE MINISTER WILL TAKE STL'S CUE ON FOUR GENERALS' DETENTION

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id: 203759
date: 4/23/2009 13:16
refid: 09BEIRUT463
origin: Embassy Beirut
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 09BEIRUT263
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RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3682
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----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 000463

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/FO, NEA/ELA
ALSO FOR IO ACTING A/S WARLICK
P FOR DRUSSELL, RRANGASWAMY
USUN FOR WOLFF/GERMAIN/SCHEDLBAUER
NSC FOR SHAPIRO, MCDERMOTT
DOD/OSD FOR FLOURNOY/KAHL/DALTON
DRL/NESA FOR WHITMAN, BARGHOUT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2019
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PTER, PINR, KJUS, UNSC, AE, SY, LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: JUSTICE MINISTER WILL TAKE STL'S CUE ON
FOUR GENERALS' DETENTION

REF: BEIRUT 263

Classified By: Ambassador Michele J. Sison for reasons 1.4
(b) and (d).

SUMMARY
-------

1. (C) In an April 22 meeting, Justice Minister Ibrahim
Najjar confirmed that the GOL had transferred all of its
files related to former PM Rafiq Hariri's assassination and
the ensuing political assassinations to the Special Tribunal
for Lebanon (STL). He expects to learn by April 27 whether
STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare will choose to request
continued detention of any of the four generals held in
Lebanon in connection with Hariri's assassination. Najjar
said he would comply fully with STL Pre-Trial Judge Daniel
Fransen's determination, and was prepared to release the
generals upon instuctions from the STL.

2. (C) Similarly, Najjar aid he would take his cue from the
STL on whethe to seek former Syrian intelligence officer
Mohammed Zohair al-Siddiq's extradition from the UAE. He
deferred to Emirati law, saying he did not know whether the
Lebanese or Syrian extradition requests would take
precedence. Najjar reported that the cabinet has stopped
discussion of signing an MOU with the STL, though Bellemare
was still asking for it in order to continue his
investigation in Lebanon. Najjar reported that the cabinet
has not made progress on appointing five judges to the
ten-member Constitutional Court, the body that decides
electoral disputes, but that he did not see it as a major
obstacle to the June 7 parliamentary elections. End summary.

GOL TRANSFERRED ALL FILES;
AWAITING DECISION ON FOUR GENERALS
----------------------------------

3. (C) In an April 22 meeting at the Justice Ministry,
Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar confirmed to DCM and PolOff
that the GOL had transferred to the Special Tribunal for
Lebanon (STL) all of its records, totaling ten packages and
four envelopes, pertaining to former PM Rafiq Hariri's
assassination and the ensuing political assassinations. He
remarked that he did not expect any of the information would
be new to the STL since the GOL had shared its records with
UNIIIC, the Tribunal's investigative body.

4. (C) He clarified that Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen had
given STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare until April 27 to
request the continued detention of the four generals detained
in connection with Hariri's assassination. If Bellemare does
not request to continue their detention, then Fransen would
make a decree to release them, which could be conditioned,
Najjar added. He explained that he awaited Fransen's
instructions, and would carry them out completely, including
any or all reservations, such as requiring weekly report-ins
or providing protection. According to Najjar, it is unlikely
the GOL will raise its own charges against the generals if
they are recommended to be released.

5. (C) If Bellemare requested continued detention, Najjar
speculated, Fransen would consider a video conference with
the generals and their lawyers in order to question them and
decide whether to permit further detention.

6. (C) Najjar disclosed that STL President Antonio Cassese
was planning a trip to Lebanon and Syria in mid-May. He
speculated that the STL would ensure that the issue of the
generals would be decided well before that trip.

GOL TO TAKE STL CUE
ON AL-SIDDIQ
-------------------

7. (C) Careful to point out that the UAE has not officially
confirmed the alleged April 18 arrest of former Syrian

BEIRUT 00000463 002 OF 002

intelligence officer Mohammed Zohair al-Siddiq, wanted by
Lebanon in connection with Hariri's assassination, Najjar
deduced that the UAE has not formally opened a case and
therefore is not yet prepared to deal with Lebanon's and
Syria's extradition requests.

8. (C) Najjar said he would defer to the STL for all
decisions on al-Siddiq. He said Lebanon would not press for
al-Siddiq's extradition until instructed by the STL. If the
STL wanted al-Siddiq, Najjar surmised that the STL would
request that Lebanon seek extradition since the STL could not
ask for extradition itself. Najjar deferred to UAE law to
determine whether the Lebanese or Syrian request would take
precedence. He said that Syria is charging al-Siddiq with
giving false testimony pertaining to the trial.

NO PROGRESS ON MOU...
---------------------

9. (C) Najjar reported that no progress has been made on
signing an MOU with the STL, requested by Bellemare to allow
him to continue his investigation in Lebanon (reftel).
Noting that Bellemare's aide had telephoned him the previous
day inquiring about its status, Najjar said that both
President Sleiman and PM Siniora wanted to avoid discussion
of the issue because it was raising objections from
Hizballah's single cabinet minister Mohammed Fneish. Fneish
reportedly dismissed the necessity of an MOU and requested
that Najjar stop raising the issue in the media.

...OR THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
------------------------------

10. (C) Najjar repeated his belief that choosing the
president of the Constitutional Court, the body that decides
electoral disputes, posed the greatest challenge to resolving
the current impasse over the Court (reftel). Given that the
president must be Maronite, Najjar said he hoped Sleiman
would appoint the presiding judge. Najjar recommended
Raymond Eid, the former president of the Beirut Bar
Association, to fill the position, noting that Speaker Nabih
Berri, who opposed a member already appointed by parliament,
would support this candidate. However, Sleiman reportedly
has been refusing to meet with Eid, Najjar said.

11. (C) If an agreement is reached on the president, Najjar
predicted, it would facilitate the remaining four
appointments, chosen by the cabinet, to complete the
ten-member Court. (Note: Parliament named the first five
judges. End note.) Najjar concluded that it is not a major
obstacle if the Court is not formed before the June 7
parliamentary elections, but a failure would be "a real shame
for democracy." Nonetheless, it could still be formed after
the elections, he submitted.

SISON

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