A press conference in Lebanon has raised questions about the legitimacy of the US-backed tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
Hariri was killed in a massive car bombing in the Lebanese capital of Beirut on February 14, 2005.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) was set up in May 2007 on an apparent mandate from Beirut to investigate the murder. The tribunal is expected to announce its findings by the end of 2010 amid allegations that it is going to accuse members of the Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah.
Hezbollah’s Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah has rejected the allegation, warning that the plot was part of “a dangerous project that is targeting the resistance.”
Political analysts have warned that such indictments are meant to sow discord in Lebanon.
The recent conference, which addressed issues surrounding the performance of the tribunal, was attended by Mohammad Raad, the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, and Dr. Salim Jreissati, a Lebanese judge and former member of the Lebanese Constitutional Council.
The first topic to be discussed at the event was, “Article 52 of the Lebanese Constitution considers the president as the only person with the authority to enter negotiations with the aim of signing agreements between Lebanon and international parties.”
This is while in the case of Hariri’s assassination, his successor Prime Minister Fouad Siniora led negotiations authorizing the establishment of the court, which was sent to the cabinet based on a petition signed by members of parliament’s majority bloc.
The motion was later endorsed by cabinet ministers an official Lebanese agreement without being put to a vote in parliament.
The conference provided seven reasons why the tribunal was a political court, which had failed to observe the barometers of pursuing justice, contravened the Lebanese Constitution and promoted the interests of international powers instead of Beirut.
1. Unlawful and illegal establishment of the Hariri tribunal, which violates Article 52 of the Lebanese Constitution and failure to obtain parliamentary approval.
2. Failure to observe the principle of confidentiality in preliminary investigations and the selective and political leakage of information and arguments to the news outlets listed below:
The Kuwaiti Al-Siyasa on May 21, 2005 and on March 28, 2009
The French Le Figaro on August 19, 2006
The German Der Spiegel on May 23, 2009
The Saudi Elaph website on July 8, 2009
The French r Le Monde on February 14, 2010
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on November 23, 2010
3. Requesting the telephone contact data of all Lebanese citizens and their exchanged text messages and failing to limit their request to suspected individuals.
4. Changing and modifying the courts internal regulations in violation of the provisions of its agreement with Lebanon and compelling Lebanon to offer information about individual who were not suspects.
5. Infringement on the country’s independence and sovereignty through requesting information that could endanger Lebanon’s national security. The interference and activities of the tribunal’s investigative committee was of such massive scale over the past five years that any portion of the country’s security and political information cannot be kept from alien reach.
In this regard Detlev Mehlis, Serge Brammertz, Daniel Bellemare, who each led the investigation for some time, and the other employees of the court’s investigative committee, were from different countries, could have accessed any information about Lebanon.
6. The use of unreliable evidence under the pretext that in acts of terrorist it is impossible to access credible and legal evidence. In this regard, Bellemare told the Lebanese news website NOW Lebanon that evidence alone holds little value but when put together, they form an unquestionable theory.
7. The courts defective performance and the suspicious affiliation of its members to certain foreign intelligence institutions. The court operated on the theory that Syria is the prime suspect in the case and four Lebanese security officials, who had good relations with Syria, were detained for four years and Syrian officials were interrogated.
But suddenly the court changed its stance, targeted other people and another group and released the four detained officers without any explanation.
Why is it the despite Israel’s repeated terrorist attacks in Lebanon and its involvement in regional conflict, does the court refuse to lay suspicion on Israel or interrogate its officials?
Aditionally, the court has refused to include Israel in its investigations depute its infiltration of the Lebanese telecommunications network and its direct control over it.