The spokesperson of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), Wajed Ramadan, said that the verdict issued on Tuesday would be followed by successive steps, beginning with notifying Salim Ayyash – the main culprit – of the ruling and informing the three other defendants, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, and Assad Sabra of their acquittal.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ramadan noted that the Registrar would take all the legal steps to notify the accused of the verdict. Since the accused was tried in absentia, she said that a certified copy of the verdict would be sent to the Lebanese authorities, which in turn, would notify the culprit in line with the procedures stipulated by the applicable Lebanese laws.
Asked about the mechanisms that can be adopted by the Court in the event the Lebanese authorities were unable or prevented from reaching Ayyash, Ramadan said: “We are confident that Lebanon will cooperate with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and it is not appropriate to speculate about what the Lebanese authorities will do to implement the punishment.”
Regarding the sentence that will be based on the charges against Ayyash, the spokesperson noted that determining the punishment was separate from the trial procedures.
“The Prosecutor and the defense may provide any relevant information that can help the Trial Chamber determine an appropriate punishment. The Trial Chamber may also authorize the affected participants to submit notes related to the personal impact of the crimes on them. A convicted person may be sentenced to imprisonment for the remainder of his life,” she explained.
While noting that “the pronouncement of the sentence shall take place in an independent public session,” Ramadan said that if the convicted person was at large and not present at the time of the judgment and the sentence, the Trial Chamber issues an arrest warrant against him, and the Prosecutor and the convicted person may both appeal the judgment or the sentence.”
She also emphasized that it was “too early to speculate on the punishment.”
“When the sentence is announced, the Trial Chamber will issue new local and international arrest warrants against Ayyash,” she stated.
Ramadan underlined that the Trial Chamber has “proven that Ayyash did not carry out the plot alone, and that evidence has shown, without any doubt, that the red communication network, which is formed of eight users, including Ayyash, constituted the assassination team.”
She reiterated that the culprit was convicted on five charges: conspiracy aimed at committing a terrorist act; committing a terrorist act by means of an explosive device, intentional homicide of Rafik Hariri with premeditation by using explosive materials, intentional homicide of 21 persons in addition to Hariri, and attempted intentional homicide of 226 persons with premeditation by using explosive materials.