U.N. asks Netherlands to host tribunal

24th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

24 July 2007, AMSTERDAM (AP) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a letter to the Netherlands on Monday asking the country to host a tribunal to prosecute suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, his office said.

24 July 2007

AMSTERDAM (AP) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a letter to the Netherlands on Monday asking the country to host a tribunal to prosecute suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, his office said.

The U.N. Security Council voted to establish the international tribunal in May at the request of current Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora after the Syrian-backed opposition blocked Lebanese approval for the tribunal in parliament.

U.N. officials have said the tribunal could take up to a year to establish, and with the investigation ongoing, it remains unclear who would face trial. The tribunal will feature a majority of international judges and an international prosecutor.

In his letter to Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, Ban stressed the fact that the Netherlands already hosts a number of special courts and tribunals, including the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court.

The country is also currently trying former Liberian President Charles Taylor at a special tribunal in The Hague on charges related to atrocities committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war.

Robert Dekker, a spokesman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry, said Balkenende had spoken with Ban on Sunday about the request, but a decision had not yet been made on whether to host the tribunal.

“We will respond constructively,” Dekker said. “What will come next is talks with the U.N. about practical issues like funding, location, security _ all those sort of things. When that picture is complete, we will make a definitive decision.”

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, said the request to the Netherlands indicates the tribunal is making ‘progress’.

A massive suicide truck bomb in Beirut killed Hariri and 22 others in February 2005. The first U.N. chief investigator, Detlev Mehlis, said the complexity of the assassination suggested Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services played a role. Four Lebanese generals, top pro-Syrian security chiefs, have been under arrest for 20 months, accused of involvement.

Syria has denied any involvement in the bombing.

The issue of the tribunal is at the core of a deep political crisis between the Western-backed government and the Syrian-backed opposition led by Hezbollah. The tensions have erupted into street battles in recent months, killing 11 people.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Dutch news


 

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