The UN Secretary-General has extended the mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon from March 1 for a further two years, “or until the completion of the cases before the Special Tribunal, if sooner, or the exhaustion of available funds, if sooner,” the secretary-general’s spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric announced on Thursday.
The mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is based near The Hague in the Netherlands, is to try those accused of carrying out the Feb. 14, 2005, attack in Beirut, which killed 22 people — including former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri — and injured 226 more, Dujarric explained.
“The trial in absentia of four individuals indicted over the killing began in January 2014. On Aug. 18, 2020, Salim Jamil Ayyash was convicted on five counts related to the attack. In the same judgment, the three other accused, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra were found not guilty”, he continued.
“On Dec. 11, 2020, Ayyash received five concurrent sentences of life imprisonment. On Jan. 13, 2021, the Prosecution, Defense and Legal Representative of Participating Victims filed notices of appeal. Appeals proceedings are currently ongoing”, the spokesperson added.
he Special Tribunal for Lebanon also has jurisdiction over attacks carried out in Lebanon between Oct. 1, 2004, and Dec. 12, 2005, if they are connected to the attack of Feb. 14, 2005, and are of a similar nature. Pre-trial proceedings began in 2019 against Ayyash in relation to three attacks against Marwan Hamade, Georges Hawi and Elias El-Murr that occurred during that time period.
“The Secretary-General reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to support the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the fight against impunity for such major crimes, in order to bring those responsible to justice,” Dujarric said. “The United Nations looks forward to the completion of the mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in a timely manner. The United Nations also looks forward to the continued support and cooperation of the Government of Lebanon”.