Hariri Tribunal: the first world court to try terrorism

12th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which opened its doors in The Hague on March 1, 2009, is the world's first international court with jurisdiction over the crime of terrorism.

It was created by a 2007 UN Security Council resolution, at Lebanon's request, to try those responsible for Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri's February 2005 assassination in a car bombing that also killed 22 other people.

The court has opted for a hybrid of the adversarial process used by other international courts, in which the prosecution and defence each presents their own evidence; and the Lebanese inquisitorial system in which victims can play a significant role in the proceedings. Trials in absentia are allowed.

Based far away from the scene of the crime for security reasons, the SLT can impose a maximum sentence of life imprisonment -- not the death penalty or forced labour as under Lebanese law.

Known colloquially as the Hariri Tribunal, the court's president is the Italian Antonio Cassese, a former president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

The court has one pre-trial judge who can confirm indictments and issue arrest warrants, three trial judges, five appeals judges and two alternate judges. Four of the judges are Lebanese.

The prosecutor is Canadian Daniel Bellemare, who also leads the independent investigation into the Hariri attack. Appointed by the UN Secretary-General, he is assisted by a Lebanese deputy prosecutor.

The STL is the first international court to have a defence office charged with protecting the rights of accused persons. Headed by French advocate Francois Roux, the office has compiled a list of 94 lawyers from around the world to represent accused on legal aid.

The tribunal, one of five international courts in The Hague, is based in the remote suburb of Leidschendam in the fortress-like former headquarters of the Dutch intelligence service.

It employs more 333 people from 62 countries, and had a budget of 65,7 million dollars for 2011 -- 49 percent covered by Lebanon and the rest by voluntary contributions from other countries.

© 2011 AFP

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