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STL Concludes Closing Arguments in Hariri Assassination Case

STL Concludes Closing Arguments in Hariri Assassination Case

Saturday, 22 September, 2018 - 05:15
Lebanese women pass by a giant portrait of slain Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri near his grave, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon in June 2011. (AP)

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is examining the assassination of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, concluded on Friday its closing arguments after nine hearing days.

The Judges will now withdraw to deliberate and will issue a judgment in due course, said the STL in a statement.

Presiding Judge Re stated, the closing arguments “are an important part of trials conducted under international criminal law procedural rules (…) and allow the Prosecution and Defense to argue based on the entirety of the evidence before the Trial Chamber whether the Prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.”

The Legal Representatives of Victims summarized the views and concerns of the victims in their closing arguments before the Trial Chamber. Seventeen victims participating in the proceedings followed the hearings of the closing arguments in the courtroom.

Four “Hezbollah” members have been indicted with Hariri’s assassination on February 14, 2005, in a major car bombing that left 21 other people dead.

The STL kicked off its proceedings on January 16, 2014. Since then, there have been 406 trial days. Currently, 72 victims are participating in the proceedings through their legal representatives.

The Judges received the evidence of 307 witnesses, 269 of whom were Prosecution witnesses, of whom 119 testified in the courtroom in the Netherlands or via video link from Beirut. The evidence of additional 150 witnesses was received in statement form, in accordance with the STL Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

The Legal Representatives of Victims presented evidence of 31 witnesses, called six participating victims and a victimologist to testify. The Oneissi Defense presented the evidence of six witnesses, two live and four in written form. The Trial Chamber also called one witness for itself.

The Trial Chamber received into evidence 3,131 documentary exhibits – 2,487 for the Prosecution, 599 for the four Accused and the former Accused, 45 from the Victims’ Legal Representatives and one admitted by the Chamber of its own volition. The exhibits total 144,928 pages.

The indictment charges Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra with conspiracy aimed at committing a terrorist act. Ayyash is also charged with committing a terrorist act by means of an explosive device, the intentional homicide of Hariri with premeditation using explosive materials, the intentional homicide of an additional 21 persons, with premeditation using explosive materials and with the attempted intentional homicide of 226 people with premeditation by using explosive materials.

Merhi, Oneissi and Sabra are also charged with being accomplices to each of the four counts charged against Ayyash. All four Accused remain at large. The proceedings against them are being held in absentia.

Initially, Mustafa Amine Badreddine was charged in the indictment. However, on July 11, 2016, following reports of his death in May 2016, the Trial Chamber terminated the case against him pursuant to an order of the Appeals Chamber—rendered by the majority of the Appeals Chamber Judges – that Badreddine was deceased, but without prejudice to the right to resume the proceedings, should evidence that he is alive emerge in the future.

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