12.27.2007

Special Tribunal for Lebanon Gets Base, Judges

UN, Netherlands sign accord to base Lebanon Special Tribunal in The Hague

UN News

21 December 2007 – The United Nations and the Netherlands today signed an agreement to base in The Hague the court to judge recent assassinations in Lebanon, including that of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

The Headquarters Agreement for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was signed in New York by UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Larry D. Johnson and Dutch Ambassador Frank Majoor.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has already accepted the recommendations of the selection panel on judges for the Tribunal and will announce the names “at an appropriate time in the future,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement [see below].

According to the Tribunal’s statute, the chambers will consist of one international pre-trial judge; three judges to serve in the trial chamber (one Lebanese and two international); five judges to serve in the appeals chamber (two Lebanese and three international); and two alternate judges (one Lebanese and one international).

In April 2005 the Security Council set up the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the Hariri assassination was seriously flawed and that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded the attack. Mr. Hariri died in a massive car bombing in Beirut in February 2005 that also took the lives of 22 others.

Earlier this month outgoing IIIC head Serge Brammertz told the Council he was “more confident and optimistic than ever” that the investigation can be concluded successfully.

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New York, 21 December 2007 - Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Earlier today, the United Nations and the Kingdom of the Netherlands signed a Headquarters Agreement that will enable the seat of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to be based in the Netherlands. Mr. Larry D. Johnson, Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, signed on behalf of the United Nations and Permanent Representative Frank Majoor signed on behalf of the Netherlands. This step is the outcome of three months of negotiations that began when Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende informed the Secretary-General that the Government of the Netherlands was favourably disposed to hosting the Special Tribunal. The Agreement will now be submitted to the Parliament of the Netherlands for ratification. In the meantime, the United Nations and the Netherlands authorities will continue taking steps to establish the Tribunal in The Hague.

In a further development, the Secretary-General has received the report of the Selection Panel constituted pursuant to article 2 of the Annex to Security Council resolution 1757 (2007) to make recommendations regarding the selection of judges of the Special Tribunal. The Panel was composed of Judge Mohamed Amin El Mahdi, formerly of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; Judge Erik Mّse, of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; and Mr. Nicolas Michel, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, the Legal Counsel. The Secretary-General has accepted the Selection Panel's recommendations and will announce the names of those selected at an appropriate time in the future. The judges will assume their functions on a date to be determined by the Secretary-General as set forth in the Annex to resolution 1757 (2007).

In addition, pursuant to article 6 of the Annex and a subsequent agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Lebanon, the Management Committee of the Special Tribunal will soon be established. It will be composed of the major donors to the Special Tribunal and will have as its main responsibility providing advice and policy direction on all non-judicial aspects of the operations of the Special Tribunal, including questions of efficiency.

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The Hariri International Tribunal Gets Base, Judges

Naharnet

The United Nations and the Dutch government have signed an agreement on hosting the international tribunal that would try suspects in the 2005 assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon approved recommendations to assign judges to the body.

The agreement was signed at the U.N. headquarters in New York by an official of the international organization's legal department and the Dutch Ambassador.

In The Hague, officials said the court would be based at a former Dutch intelligence headquarters.

The municipality of Leidschendamm-Vorberg, in the suburbs of The Hague, said the government had decided to house the court in the building once used by the AIVD intelligence service.

Alterations to the building and other preparations would begin next year, while the court would open in 2009 on a five-year lease.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende agreed in August to host the special court after some initial hesitation on security grounds. The Netherlands will be responsible for security.

Witnesses who cannot return to their own country for security reasons will not be able to live in The Netherlands after they have given evidence.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) will try suspects in the assassination of Hariri, the popular ex-prime minister who was killed along with 22 others in a massive explosion on the Beirut seafront on February 14, 2005.

The tribunal will also have jurisdiction over other attacks against anti-Syrian Lebanese figures carried out between October 2004 and December 2005 if they are linked to the Hariri slaying.

U.N. investigators probing Hariri's murder have identified several people who they say may have been involved in the slaying, but no one has been charged.

In his final appearance before the U.N. Security Council earlier this month, outgoing chief of the Hariri probe, Serge Brammertz, said he is more confident than ever that those allegedly involved in the Hariri assassination will face justice.

He said that progress made in the last few months has enabled U.N. investigators to identify "a number of persons of interest" who may have been involved in some aspect of the crime -- or knew about the preparations.

Brammertz also said in his final report that investigators had confirmed their hypothesis that "operational links may exist" between the perpetrators of the 18 other targeted assassinations and bombings in Lebanon.

The Dutch government will take care of the six-year lease, according to the official statement. Lebanon will handle 49 percent of the expenses incurred for the tribunal, while voluntary donations from U.N. member states will pay the rest of the bill.

The Hague is already fast becoming the legal capital of the world, as the seat for several international tribunals such as the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone, which has its headquarters in Freetown, has also moved the trial of Liberian former president Charles Taylor to The Hague.


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Related materials:

- Statute of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

- The International Tribunal for Lebanon (Resolution 1757)

- UN Report on the Establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

- Ninth report of Hariri International Investigation Commission

- Memo for International Tribunal for Lebanon

- Special Tribunal for Lebanon Comes Into Force


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