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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Lebanon judge begins transfer of Hariri case to new UN tribunal
Andrew Morgan at 12:07 PM ET

[JURIST] A Lebanese judge on Wednesday ordered the transfer of documents related to the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive] to a UN tribunal created to investigate and try suspects in the killing. Judge Sakr Sakr's order [AFP report] comes in response to a request [order, PDF; JURIST report] issued last month by the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) [official website] that Lebanese authorities "defer to the Tribunal's competence" by turning over the results of the Lebanese investigation and a list of all persons detained in connection with the 2005 assassination. Sakr's order also lifts arrest warrants for four generals held since 2005 in connection with the case, though they will remain in jail in Lebanon pending an STL decision. STL registrar Robin Vincent [official profile, PDF] said in February that it plans to ask the Lebanese government to transfer the generals [Daily Star report; JURIST report] to the tribunal. Under UN Security Council Resolution 1757 [text, PDF; JURIST report], which established the tribunal, STL assumed exclusive jurisdiction [Daily Star report] over the case after making the request.

In March 2008, lead prosecutor Daniel Bellemare [Ya Libnan profile] said he believed a criminal network was behind the assassination [JURIST report]. The investigation into the assassination has been extended past its original anticipated end date and expanded [JURIST reports] to cover other assassinations in the country. Several reports from the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) [authorizing resolution; UN materials], also headed by Bellemare, have implicated Syrian officials [JURIST report] in Hariri's death.

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