Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Chronology
Last Updated 24 March 2015
18 March 2015: Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri sets the start of the trial in the case against Al Jadeed S.A.L./NEW T.V. S.A.L.(N.T.V.) and Ms. Karma Mohamed Tahsin Al Khayat for Thursday, 16 April 2015. The tribunal has listed the requirements for media accreditation in the press release.
10 March 2015: As required by Article 10(2) of the Tribunal’s Statute, the tribunal submits its Sixth Annual Report detailing all the achievements and challenges met by the tribunal from the period of 1 March 2014 to 28 February 2015. The Tribunal has now completed its second three-year mandate since commencing work on 1 March 2009, with the first mandate being a period of investigation and preparation, the second opening the first trial on 16 January 2014, and the third to include the completion of the trial.
23 February 2015 –The Judges STL approved amendments to the Tribunal's Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The amendments address the excusal and disqualification of Judges (Rule 25) and harmonizing the Rules with the Tribunal's Host State Agreement (Rules 78 (C) & 103).
19 February 2015 – The Special Tribunal for Lebanon holds elections. Judge Ivana Hrdličková of the Czech Republic is elected President, and Judge Ralph Riachy of Lebanon is re-elected as Vice President.
23 January 2015: The Appeals Panel unanimously decides that the Tribunal does have jurisdiction to hear cases of obstruction of justice against legal persons as in the case against Ibrahim Mohamed Ali Al Amin and Al Akhbar Beirut S.A.L.. The Appeals Panel reverses the Contempt Judge's previous decision on jurisdiction in which he held that there is no ambiguity in the term "person" under Rule 60 bis of the Tribunal's Rules of Procedure and Evidence and that it only applies to natural persons. As a result, the Appeals Panel orders that the charges against Al Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. be reinstated.
22 January 2015: Sixteen representatives of Lebanese media organizations attend a two-day seminar at the STL in the Netherlands. The event is intended to bring journalists, editors, and media officials to the STL and allow them to participate in seminars on the work of the Tribunal and international justice.
15 January 2015: A ceremony is held for the 80 students who completed the Inter-University Program on International Criminal Law and Procedure. The course uses modern technology to transmit lectures from The Hague to the students in Lebanon.
18 December 2014: The Contempt Judge, Nicola Lettieri, orders the trial to start on 16 April 2015. Following opening statements, the Prosecutor will present his case from 16 April 2015, and the Defense will present its case from 12 May 2015.
1 December 2014: The Tribunal announces that fifteen NGO representatives from Lebanon have completed training aimed at providing them with the necessary information and skills to successfully monitor international criminal proceedings. The training was held in Beirut and The Hague, and had a special focus on the STL.
6 November 2014: The Contempt Judge, Nicola Lettieri, rules that the STL has jurisdiction to hear cases against natural persons with respect to the case against Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. and Mr. Ibrahim Mohamed Ali Al Amin. Judge Lettieri concludes that under Rule 60 bis, the Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to hear cases of obstruction of justice against legal persons (corporate entities). Judge Lettieri considers the Appeals Panel’s decision on jurisdiction in Case STL-14-05 but declines to follow the reasoning it provided.
6 November 2014: The STL confirms it received the 2014 budget from the Lebanese government. The full sum of € 29,347,003.50, which is 49% of the Tribunal's budget, has been transferred to the Tribunal's bank account.
28 October 2014: The Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri schedules a pretrial conference for Monday, November 3, in the case against Al Jadeed S.A.L./New T.V. S.A.L. and MS. Karma Mohamed Tahsin Al Khayat. Both the prosecutor and the defense believe that they would benefit from a delayed start to the trial.
2 October 2014: The Appeals Panel appointed to consider an appeal relating to the STL's jurisdiction decided by majority that the STL does have jurisdiction to hear cases of obstruction of justice against legal persons (corporate entities) because the term “person” in Rule 60 bis is ambiguous. They also stated that the Contempt Judge used the wrong rule of interpretation and erred in determining that the term "person" excludes legal entities. By majority decision, the Appeals Panel includes New TV S.A.L. as an accused in this case.
24 July 2014: In response to a motion filed by the Defense for NEW TV S.A.L. and Karma Mohamed Tahsin Al Khayat challenging the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to hear cases of contempt in relation to legal persons (corporate entities), the Contempt Judge issued a decision that rules that the STL does not have jurisdiction. However, Judge Nicola Lettieri confirmed that under Rule 60 bis the Tribunal does have jurisdiction to hear cases for offences against the administration of justice against natural persons.
19 June 2014: On 18 June the trial in the Ayyash et al. case resumed, and the Prosecution and Defense gave their opening statements. The Prosecution described the terrorist attack and aftermath in detail, emphasized the human and material losses, and spoke of the role of the five accused, focusing on Mr. Merhi’s role, in the conspiracy to kill Mr. Hariri. The Defense started by expressing deep sympathy for the victims, spoke about an alleged inequality of arms between the Prosecution and the Defense, and the use of circumstantial evidence.
5 June 2014: Mr. Al Amin appeared and read his statement via videoconference. The Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri issued a decision stating that he interpreted Mr. Al Amin's statement and his actions as a not guilty plea and ordered the Defense Office to appoint counsel for him. He also expressed that Mr. Al Amin’s presence at the initial appearance means he no longer has rights of an absentia trial, although he can still appear via videoconference.
5 June 2014: In response to an appeal filed by Mr. Merhi’s counsel, the Appeals Chamber rendered a decision to resume trial in the Ayyash et al. case on June 18, 2014. The one appeal upheld from the Merhi’s Defense complaints regarded the review of the Prosecution’s evidence by an expert witness. The Appeals Chamber Judges instructed the Trial Chamber to assess on a case-by-case basis whether the Merhi Defense could challenge the evidence of certain witnesses without the assistance of an expert.
23 May 2014: The Contempt Judge has ordered initial appearances on May 29 of the accused in the case against Mr. Ibrahim Al Amin and Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. The initial appearances were originally scheduled on May 13, but were postponed upon the request of Mr. Al Amin, who asked for additional time to select legal counsel.
24 April 2014: The STL has summoned Karma Mohamed Tahsin al Khayat from Al-Jadeed TV, as well as the station's parent company New TV S.A.L., to appear on two counts of Contempt and Obstruction of Justice and Ibrahim Mohamed Al Amin from Al Akhbar, as well as the newspaper's parent company Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. to appear on one count of Contempt and Obstruction of Justice. They are being charged with knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by broadcasting and/or publishing information on purported confidential witnesses.
22 April 2014: The STL has issued new arrest warrants for Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra, following the Prosecution’s submission of a consolidated indictment. International arrest warrants will also be provided. The Trial Chamber requests Lebanese authorities to act on the new arrest warrants.
16 April 2014: At the status conference on April 10, 2014, the Badreddine Defense Counsel updated the court on cooperation between Lebanon and the STL, but specifically discussed how it is seeking call data records for the period between 2004 and 2006 from the two Lebanese mobile telecommunications companies. The Merhi Defense indicated that they have come to an agreement on nine facts included in the indictment. The judge instructed the Badreddine defense to conduct a meeting to address the telecommunications issues, and the Merhi Defense to file any motions challenging the remaining five experts.
3 April 2014: STL announces the scheduling of a Status Conference for the Ayyash et. al. case on 10 April, 2014. The hearing will cover the preparation of the counsel for Hassan Habib Merhi for the resumption of the trial.
17 March 2014: STL releases the 6th issue of their Judicial Brief on their website in English, Arabic, and French. The Brief covers the Ayyash et al. trial proceedings between 22 January and 25 February 2014 and the Trial Chamber's decision to join the Merhi case with the Ayyash et al. case and to temporarily adjourn trial.
11 March 2014: STL Prosecutor and the head of the Defense Office participated in Beirut Bar Association conference focusing on "International Criminal Proceedings: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon". The conference was attended by around 150 lawyers, judges, and academics. The Head of the BBA stated on the Tribunal that“ the STL has been successful [..] in pursuing its legal mandate uninfluenced by the political agenda of any given State".
10 March 2014: STL releases annual report detailing the Tribunals activities, achievements, and challenges for the past year as well as its objectives for the coming year.
4 March 2014: Office of the Prosecutor to file a joint indictment for the five accused by March 7. He adjourned the Status Conference, saying that another Conference may be convened in the future if need be.
4 March 2014: Merhi's counsel suggests hearing in 6-7 weeks to discuss readiness of the defense team.
4 March 2014: Public Status Conference to discuss the status of the Merhi defense team's trial preparation
26 February 2014: Judges conclude that going the trials of the 5 accused better protects their rights to a fair and expedited rial.
12 February 2014: The Trial Chamber holds a hearing to address the logistical issues of a joint trial and the discuss the necessary length of adjournment. Merhi Counsel requests 5 to 6 months to prepare for trial while the Prosecution states they are ready for trial. The Trial Chamber adjourns the hearing to allow Merhi Counsel adequate time to prepare for Trial.
11 February 2014: The Trial Chamber issues an oral ruling to join the Merhi case with the Ayyash et al. case, saying that a joint trial would minimize the trauma to victims and witnesses and prevent them from being called multiple times and add additional costs between 5 to 10 million euros.
7 February 2014: The Prosecution calls witness Malcolm Wilson, a retired British police officer to testify before the Trial Chamber on the operations taken to recover vehicle debris from the seabed in the area where former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated on Feb. 14, 2005. The debris allegedly included parts of a Mitsubishi vehicle. The Prosecution claims that a suicide bomber driving a white Mitsubishi van targeted Hariri’s motorcade. Further examination of the debris determined that they were from a Mitsubishi vehicle.
6 February 2014: Protected witness testimony continues regarding Internal Security Forces (ISF) measures taken to preserve the Hariri crime scene. Presiding Judge Walid Akoum asks the witness whether he had seen anyone tamper with the crime scene. The witness responds describing the chaos at the site in the hours following the suicide bombing and saying there were numerous people there, but he couldn’t give an exact figure. The Defense, during cross-examination, points to a report from an officer of the Interior citing serious negligence in the preservation of the crime scene. When asked how the ISF preserved evidence, the witness says he did not remember whether the guidelines required that evidence must be sealed in a bag or envelope when collected.
5 February 2014: The Prosecution calls more protected witnesses, including an Internal Security Forces member who assisted a Swiss team who examined the crime scene in 2005 and a witness who gave his account on the recovery of metal debris from and around the crime scene.
22 October 2013: The STL Trial Chamber schedules a Pre-Trial Conference hearing for 29 October in preparation for the start of the trial for the Ayyash et al. case. The hearing will cover the Trial readiness of the parties and the witness and exhibit lists for the prosecution.
21 October 2013: The STL has confirmed the indictment of Hassan Habib Merhi accusing him of involvement in the 14 February 2005 Beirut attack.
21 October 2013: Lebanese authorities have been so far unsuccessful in locating Hassan Habib Merhi.
17 October 2013: Head of Defense Office Francois Roux stated in an interview he expects the trial to begin in January 2014.
14 October 2013: The STL delivered a public service announcement regarding the arrest warrant for Hassan Habib Merhi.
11 October 2013: The STL delivered wanted posters of Hassan Habib Merhi to Lebanese authorities.
10 October 2013: Hassan Habib Merhi is charged for multiple crimes including conspiracy aimed at committing a terrorist act.
20 September 2013: The Registrar Daryl A. Mundis completes his official trip to Lebanon. During his visit, Mr. Mundis met with the Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Prime Minister Designate Tammam Salam, and other state officials to discuss the Lebanese government's ongoing responsibilities to and cooperation with the STL.
10 September 2013: The Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber Robert Roth announces that he is resigned from the STL. The STL currently has official procedures for appointing an Alternate Judge when a judge resigns, so it is unlikely Judge Roth's departure will affect the provisional start date for the Ayaash et al. case.
2 August 2013: The Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen announces that 13 January 2014 will be new provisional start date for the Ayaash et al. case, which was postponed earlier this year. Once the Pre-Trial Judge refers the case to the Trial Chamber judges, they will finalize the start date for the trial.
29 July 2013: 120 students from eight Lebanese universities complete the special inter-university program on international criminal law and procedure. The program was created by the STL in 2011 in conjunction with the T.M.C. Asser Instituut in The Netherlands.
24 July 2013: The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon nominates Daryl A. Mundis for the position of STL Registrar. Mr. Mundis has previously served in the Office of the Prosecutor at both the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia and the STL.
12 July 2013: STL President David Baragwanath and Vice-President Ralph Riachy are reelected for their positions for another 18 month period.
3 July 2013: The Pre-Trial Judge convenes a public status conference hearing to discuss the current status of the case in preparation for trial.
2 July 2013: The Acting Registrar Daryl A. Mundis announces that Stéphane Bourgon will be the special investigator for the official probe into the three alleged incidents of witness intimidation. Mr. Bourgon will gather evidence, and testify whether there are sufficient grounds to initiate proceedings within the next few months.
29 April 2013: The STL states that it will initiate proceeding to appoint a special investigator to examine three incidents in which the identities of witnesses were publicized. Judge David Baragwanath orders for all three incidents to remain confidential for the foreseeable future in order to prevent external interference with the investigation.
16 April 2013: The Prosecution submits a Notice of Intention to provide reports of its proposed expert witnesses to the Trial Chamber, so the Chamber may determine the qualifications of each proposed witness and the admissibility of their reports.
13 April 2013: Hackers break into the website of Al-Mustaqbal, a major Beirut newspaper, and post the personal data of 167 Lebanese men whom the hackers allege are witnesses for the STL. The publicized personal data includes their birth dates, places of birth, passport photos, cities of residence, and professions, on the front page. The hacker group, Journalists for Truth, has no known affiliation, and are only traceable to a website registered in the Netherlands. The STL denounces the hacking operation as an attempt to undermine the tribunal’s proceedings and intimidate witnesses.
11 April 2013: The Legal Representative of Victims (LRV) requests that the Pre-Trial Judge grant a leave of eleven weeks to allow compliance with his Decision on Protective Measures (issued on 10 April 2013). The LRV estimates that it will take at least eleven weeks to inform the victims participating in the proceedings (VPPs) of the outcome of their plea. Also, the LRV states that VPPs will need this time to decide whether they should retain their VPP status and request alternative protective measures, or withdraw from the proceedings altogether.
10 April 2013: The Appeal Chambers upholds the Pre-Trial Judge’s Decision on Protective Measures. In the initial decision, the Pre-Trial Judge refused the Legal Representative of Victims’ request to recognize the validity of total anonymity for seventeen victims participating in the proceedings as a protective measure. The Appeals Chambers justifies its decision on the grounds that anonymity is “generally prejudicial to and inconsistent with the rights of the accused and the fairness of the trial” and is “not a valid form of victim participation within the meaning of Article 17 of the Statute.”
10 April 2013: The Pre-Trial Judge holds a public status conference as part of his official duties and responsibilities.
22 March 2013: The Lebanese Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, resigns to protest the cabinet's refusal to extend the tenure of the national police chief, Maj. Gen. Ashraf al-Rifi. The police chief was regarded by many Sunni Muslims in Lebanon as their sole remaining protector in the current deeply politicized climate in which the army and General Security forces are seen as pro-Hezbollah. After the president accepts his resignation, Mr. Mikati wil head an interim government until a new one is formed.
8 March 2013: The fourth annual report on STL's activities is issued, marking the start of the second year of STL's renewed mandate. The comprehensive report details the intensive preparations for trial, including Defense challenges to STL's legality, the task of disclosing evidence, and the postponement of the tentative date for trial. The report also states that the trial will tentatively begin later in 2013, and that Prosecution will form a new team designed to examine whether other assassinations may be connected to the 14 February 2005 attack.
25 February 2013: The Judges approve several amendments to the STL’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, which refine existing rules and will enter into force on 6 March 2013. While most of the amendments are minor technical changes, there are a few significant differences, including a change to Rule 36, pursuant to which more powers will be assigned to a single Judge of a Chamber (the Judge Rapporteur) to speed up proceedings. In addition, Rules 60bis and 152 were amended to allow cases of contempt and false testimony to be heard by a single Judge to improve judicial efficiency. Rule 89(E) now provides that the Pre-Trial Judge may refer any matter to the Trial Chamber that he considers should be adjudicated before the formal transmission of the case file, meaning that the Trial Chamber will be able to consider such matters before the start of trial. Finally, under the revised Rule 70, when two or more cases are joined into one, the Trial Chamber already seized of one of them may assume some of the powers of the Pre-trial Judge in order to expedite proceedings and prevent litigation on the most appropriate forum.21 February 2013: Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen postpones the start of the trial of Ayyash, et al., which was initially scheduled to begin 25 March 2013. Judge Fransen has asked the Prosecution, Defense Counsel and the Victims’ Representatives for submissions regarding their preparedness for trial by 8 March. The decision to postpone came in response to a request from the Defense, which argued that certain disclosure obligations had not been met. Judge Fransen agreed that the Prosecution had not yet disclosed the entirety of the material to the Defense, and that the Defence had not been able to obtain certain information due to technical reasons. The judge also took note of several outstanding cooperation requests from the Defense to Lebanese authorities.
12 February 2013: The Appeals Chamber files an order on submissions from the Victims' Participation Unit (VPU) in response to a decision of the Pre-Trial Judge that held that victims participating in the proceedings may not do so anonymously. The Appeals Chamber accepts the Chief of VPU's request to make submissions with respect to the issue of victim anonymity and sets a deadline of 1 March 2013 to file a brief.
7 February 2013: The STL Prosecutor Norman Farrell files a confidential motion seeking amendments to the present indictment in the Ayyash et al. proceedings. This filing follows a commitment made by the Office of the Prosecutor during a Status Conference held by the Pre-Trial Judge on 30 January 2013.
28 January 2013: The STL Registrar Herman von Hebel travels to Lebanon to meet with the Prime Minister and other Lebanese officials, as well as various representatives in the diplomatic community.
22 January 2013: The STL condemns the recent media reports claiming to know the identities of individuals who may be called to testify as witnesses. Given security concerns over identifying potential witnesses, the STL abstains from confirming whether the news reports were accurate or not.
14 January 2013: The STL appoints a new Deputy Registrar, Daryl Mundis, to replace Kaoru Okuizumi who left STL in October 2012. Mr. Mundis served as Chief of Prosecutions at STL prior to this appointment and was a Senior Prosecuting Trial Attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.
14 January 2013: The United Nations Secretary General appoints Judge Ivana Hrdličková to serve on the Appeals Chamber of the STL. She will be sworn-in on 16 January 2013 at a public hearing before taking up her duties.
21 November 2012: The STL announces that Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen will hold a public status conference on Tuesday 27 November to review the progress of the Prosecutor v. Ayyash, et. al case and evaluate where directions can be given in the interest of fair and efficient proceedings. Defense and Prosecution will be present at the hearings. It is within the judge’s discretion to decide whether to close the hearing to the public if confidential matters need to be discussed.
15 November 2012: The Prosecution for the STL files its pre-trial brief, list of witnesses, and list of exhibits for its first case, Prosecutor v. Ayyash, et. al. Although most documents will remain confidential, a redacted version of the brief is available on the STL’s website. The Prosecution intends to call 557 witnesses and present 13,170 exhibits. The case is tentatively set to begin on 25 March 2013.
24 October 2012: The STL Appeals Chamber unanimously dismisses the Defense’s challenge to the Tribunal’s legality. Defense counsel for the four accused in the Ayyash, et. al. case argued that the Tribunal violates Lebanese sovereignty and lacks jurisdiction and authority to try the accused. On 27 July, the Trial Chamber dismissed the Defense’s motions noting that it did not have authority to review the Security Council Resolution that established the Tribunal. The Defense appealed the case to the Appeals Chamber. The Ayyash et. al. case is set to begin on 25 March 2013.
26 September 2012: Judge Sir David Baragwanath, President of the STL, addresses members of the Tripoli Bar Association via video conference. He addresses the responsibilities and challenges faced by judges.
21 September 2012: The Appeals Chamber schedules a hearing on 1 October to hear the appeal against the decision on the jurisdiction and legality of the Tribunal. On 27 July the Trial Chamber dismissed the defense’s motion challenging the jurisdiction and legality of the tribunal. The defense appealed the decision.
20 September 2012: US authorities issue the license required for Mr. John Jones to continue to represent Mr. Mustafa Badreddine, one of the accused in the STL’s first case. The defense counsel had requested clarification on whether Mr. Jones, a US citizen, can continue to represent Mr. Badreddine after the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on the defendant. The Pre-Trial Judge has set 25 March 2013 as the tentative date for the start of trial.
4 September 2012: Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen grants victim status to nine additional persons in the Ayyash et al proceedings, the Tribunal’s first case. Fifty-eight persons have been granted victim status so far in the proceedings. The trial date has been tentatively set for 25 March 2013.
28 August 2012: The Appeals Chamber sets 1 October 2012 to hear arguments on Defense Counsel motions challenging the jurisdiction and legality of the court. The Trial Chamber dismissed the challenges. Defense Counsel will argue that the Trial Chamber was wrong to find that the legal basis for the Tribunal was Security Council Resolution 1757, which fails to take into account the Lebanese Constitution. They are also arguing that creating a tribunal to try one incident over the course of Lebanese history is impermissibly selective.
30 July 2012: The Trial Chamber confirms the Tribunal’s jurisdiction to try those accused of committing the 14 February 2005 attack against former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and related cases. Defense Counsel challenged the Tribunal’s jurisdiction on several grounds, arguing that it was set up illegally and does not guarantee the rights of the accused. The Trial Chamber found that it had no power to review Security Council actions, which established the Tribunal under Resolution 1757. Its decision is subject to appeal.
11 July 2012: STL Pre-Trial judge Daniel Fransen sets 25 March 2013 as the tentative date for the Tribunal’s first trial. The four accused – Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Hussein Oneissi, and Assad Sabra – remain at large. The date for the trial may change if any of the accused are arrested or if the Prosecutor files a request to amend the indictment.
19 July 2012: Pre-trial judge sets the tentative date for the trial of the Ayyash et al case to start on 25 March 2013.
18 July 2012: The STL concludes seminar for journalists in Beirut discussing STL’s ongoing judicial activities in preparation for trial, and speculation surrounding the STL.
18 July 2012: The STL rejects a defense request to reconsider its 16 February 2011 ruling, which defined terrorism for the first time in international law.
11 July 2012: The STL confirms receipt of funding from Lebanese government for the 2012 fiscal year in the amount of 26,927,270, 49 percent of the Tribunal’s budget.
11 July 2012: The STL rejects a motion by the defense of the four accused to reconsider or suspend proceedings in absentia.
30 June 2012: The STL confirms its jurisdiction to try those accused of committing the February 2005 attack, as well as connected cases.
13 June 2012: Defence lawyers present arguments to the Trial Chamber in support of their claim that the STL should be declared illegal on the ground that the UN Security Council abused its powers when setting up the court five years ago. In particular, they argued that the UNSC erred in determining that the attack of 14 February 2005 posed a threat to international peace and security, and thus the Council did not have power to act under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. They also submitted that the resolution violates the law on treaties and UN law and that it is unconstitutional under Lebanese law.
6 June 2012: Prosecutors file their response to the defence teams’ challenges to the STL’s jurisdiction. They argue that the Trial Chamber’s review of the UNSC adoption of Resolution 1757 should be limited to ascertaining whether the Security Council found a threat to international peace and security. They also submit that the defence does not have standing to raise violations of Lebanese sovereignty.
16 May 2012: The Registrar designates one lead counsel and two co-counsel to represent the fifty-eight victims of the 14 February 2005 attack granted a right to participate in the Ayyash et al. case. Specifically, the Registrar appointed the following representatives, selected on the basis of their relevant experience, skills, and competence: Mr. Peter Haynes, Mr. Mohammad Mattar, and Mr. Nada Abd El Sater.
15 May 2012: The Defence Team for Assad Sabra, led by David Young of 9 Bedford Row International, challenges the jurisdiction of the STL on the basis that it violates: the Lebanese legal and constitutional order; the core principles of the United Nations Charter, including respect for State sovereignty and the rule of law; and important human rights safeguards as a result of the displacement of Lebanese jurisdictions by an international special court.
10 May 2012: The Defense team for Mustafa Bedreddine files a motion challenging the legality of the establishment of the STL.
18 April 2012: The Appeals Chamber issues a decision holding that documents that may explain why Jamil El Sayed was detained by Lebanese authorities for nearly three and a half years prior to the establishment of the STL, or why he should have been released, must be disclosed by the Prosecutor by 18 May at the latest.
3 April 2012: Judge Sir David Baragwanath asks Lebanese leadership to cooperate in bringing the leaders of Hezbollah to trial in the STL. Sir Baragwanath also briefs Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati on the STL’s progress, and delivers a lecture at La Sagesse University on international law and Lebanese law. The lecture focuses on the different types of law the STL uses, and on how to further incorporate Lebanese law into the STL proceedings. Judge Ralph Riachi, the STL’s Vice President, attends the lecture.
1 April 2012: Judge Sir David Baragwanath, the President of the STL, arrives in Beirut to meet with Lebanese leaders and discuss the progress of the trials.
29 March 2012: The courtroom in the STL is renamed in honor of Judge Antonio Cassese, the Tribunal’s first President.
28 March 2012: Tom Fletcher, the UK Ambassador to Lebanon, informs President Michel Sleiman of the UK’s pledge to contribute additional funding to the STL.
26 March 2012: William Hague, the U.K. Foreign Secretary, announces that the British government will provide an additional £1 million to the STL, bringing the total British contribution to the Tribunal to £ 3.3 million since 2009. In a statement to Parliament, Mr. Hague explains that this new funding will help protect the national security of England, as well as strengthen the rule of international law in combating terrorism. Mr. Hague also announces additional funding for the SCSL and the ECCC.
16 March 2012: Judge Sir Baragwanath temporarily suspends proceedings to define “criminal association.” He asks the parties involved to submit motions on whether the Appeals Chamber should continue the process of defining “criminal association.”
16 March 2012: The Appeals Chamber unanimously votes to re-elect Judge Sir David Baragwanath of New Zealand as President and Presiding Judge of the STL, and Judge Joseph Riachi of Lebanon as Vice President. The Appeals Chamber was able to complete the re-election process after returning to full judicial competency with the swearing-in of Judge Daniel Nsereko several days before. Both Baragwanath and Riachi begin eighteen-month terms.
13 March 2012: In a confidential decision based primarily on procedural grounds, the Pre-Trial Judge rejects the Prosecution’s request to amend the indictment against the four defendants in Ayyash et. al.
13 March 2012: Alain Grellet, head of the Victims’ Participation Unit, answers questions in a live Twitter session. His session is part of an ongoing effort by the STL to directly interact with Lebanese citizens.
12 March 2012: The STL swears in Norman Ferrell, the new Prosecutor, and Daniel Nsereko, the new Appeals Chamber Judge.
7 March 2012: The Appeals Chamber asks the Prosecution and Defense counsel to file written submissions on the crime of “criminal association” under the Lebanese Criminal Code. Each side has until 15 March to submit its argument, and each side must also decide whether the STL should hold a hearing on the subject. In its argument, the Defense must address how this crime would affect the defendants. The Appeals Chamber is requesting this motion in response to the Prosecution’s request to amend the indictment in the case of Ayyash et. al. The Pre-Trial Judge is currently reviewing the Prosecution’s request.
2 March 2012: The Pre-Trial Judge requests that the Appeals Chamber define what constitutes “criminal association,” in response to a recent Prosecution request to amend the indictment against all four defendants. Under the Lebanese Penal Code Article 335, “criminal association” is a crime.
1 March 2012: Judge Sir David Baragwanath, the President of the Tribunal, releases videos on YouTube in which he answers key questions about the trials. He primarily discusses false witnesses, how the Tribunal determines which cases are sufficiently connected to the 14 February 2005 attacks to warrant trial in the Tribunal, whether the Tribunal can try assassinations that occurred after 2005, whether the Tribunal can try cases regarding the death of civilians during the 2006 war, and how the Tribunal contributes to the rule of law in Lebanon.
29 February 2012: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appoints Canadian Norman Ferrell as the new prosecutor for the STL. Mr. Ferrell, who is currently deputy prosecutor for the ICTY, replaces Mr. Daniel Bellemare, whose term has ended. Mr. Ban also appoints Daniel David Ntanda Nsereko of Uganda as an international judge for the STL Appeals Chamber. Judge Nsereko, currently a judge in the Appeals Chamber of the ICC, replaces the late president of the STL, Antonio Cassese.
22 February 2012: U.N. Sectary-General Ban Ki-moon extends the mandate of the STL for an additional three years, effective 1 March 2012. The extension “reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to the efforts of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to uncover the truth regarding the terrorist attack that took the lives of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22others, so as to bring those responsible to justice and send a message that impunity will not be tolerated.”
20 February 2012: The STL judges approve some limited changes to the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The majority of the changes pertain to victims’ rights to participate in the proceedings, including an amendment making it easier for victims to be witnesses in the judicial proceedings; one allowing for the Prosecution, Defense, and Victims’ Participation Unit to make submissions in response to victims’ requests to participate; and one granting the Pre-Trial Judge authority to group victims granted participation rights. The Rules were also amended to require that the Prosecution immediately inform the Head of the Defence Office about the arrest of a suspect or an accused.
15 February 2012: The eight lawyers appointed to represent the in absentia defendants in Prosecutor v. Ayyash et al. take an oath of office. The lawyers promise to perform their duties “with integrity and diligence, honorably, freely, expeditiously and conscientiously.”
10 February 2012: The Victims’ Participation Unit sends seventy-three applications from people harmed as a result of the 14 February 2005 attack to the Pre-Trial Judge. After the judge makes a decision on these applications, victims will have a chance to participate in the trial proceedings.
2 February 2012: The Head of the Defense Office assigns eight permanent counsels to the four defendants in absentia of Prosecutor v. Ayyash et al. The Head of the Prosecution now has thirty business days to disclose the indictment materials to the Head of Defense.
1 February 2012: The Trial Chamber of the STL decides to try the four perpetrators of the 14 February 2005 attack in absentia. The Trial Chamber makes this decision after concluding that it had taken all reasonable steps to locate the accused and notify them of the proceedings against them. The STL is the only international tribunal that can prosecute defendants in absentia, but this ability is only used as a measure of last resort if the defendants cannot be located.
25 January 2012: The Lebanese delegation, led by Mr. Nouhad Jabre and Mr. Basam Dayé, visits the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The President of the Tribunal receives the delegation, and invites them to participate in lectures by the heads of the Prosecution, Defense, and Victim Participation Units.
24 January 2012: Francis Roux, the Head of Defense Office, answers questions on Twitter about the STL.
23 January 2012: Twenty-nine Lebanese lawyers from the Beirut and Tripoli Bars begin a two day visit to The Hague. The group plans to visit the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the International Court of Justice. Judge Sir David Baragwanath, president of the STL, accompanied by officials from each of the other four organs, plans to welcome the lawyers. While in The Hague, the lawyers will discuss criminal proceedings in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and how these procedures compare with the Lebanese legal system. The seminar is part of the Outreach and Legacy Section of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
11 November 2011: The STL Trial Chamber convenes to hear arguments about initiating in absentia proceedings. Prosecutors ask the Chamber to delay the proceedings, while Francois Roux, head of the Defense Office, accuses the prosecutors of attempting to stall for time and asks the court to withdraw arrest warrants issued for the suspects. Roux argues that removing the threat of arrest would encourage the suspects to interact with the STL directly.
9 November 2011: STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare expresses his concern that beginning in absentia proceedings has been premature. In his submission to the court, Bellemare questions whether all reasonable efforts to arrest and transfer the suspects in Ayyash et al. have been made and whether the Lebanese authorities have conducted a thorough search effort. The submission suggests that the Lebanese official be asked to testify before the Chamber on their efforts to locate the suspects.
3 November 2011: STL duty counsel assigned to defendants in Ayyash et al. meet for three days to familiarize themselves with the Tribunal’s administrative procedures and to discuss various other legal questions. Duty counsel will have the right to act independently in raising any legal issue they feel necessary for representing their assigned defendants.
1 November 2011: The STL reports that more than 60 people have applied to participate as victims in the case of Ayyash et al. Their applications will now be translated before being handed over to the Pre-Trial Judge for decisions. The process is expected to take several months.
28 October 2011: The STL Victims’ Participation Unit issues a reminder that applications to participate in proceedings in the Ayyash et al. trial are due on 31 October 2011. Victims of the 14 February 2005 attack may be able to participate by making submissions, submitting evidence, and questioning witnesses. Victims who are unable to afford a lawyer will be provided one through the court’s legal aid program.
27 October 2011: The STL Trial Chamber schedules an open hearing to hear arguments for and against proceeding with the Ayyash et al. trial in absentia. The hearing will also be followed on the STL Web site in English, French, and Arabic. Members of the media are required to submit accreditation forms online by Tuesday 8 November.
26 October 2011: The Defence Office assigns temporary counsel to represent the four accused in Ayyash et al., in response to the Trial Chamber’s order for written submissions regarding the initiation of proceedings in abstentia. Each accused is assigned a separate lead and co-counsel who will represent their designated accused until the accused decide to participate in the proceedings or the Trial Chamber reaches a decision on initiating proceedings in abstenia. Should the Trial Court choose to initiate proceedings, the Defence Office will assign permanent defense counsel.
22 October 2011: Judge Antonio Cassese, former President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and Appeals Chamber Judge, dies of cancer. Mr. Cassese had stepped down as President earlier this month citing his deteriorating health. Members of the Tribunal have expressed their sadness at his passing and wish to highlight his distinguished legacy as a pioneer of international human rights doctrine.
20 October 2011: The Trial Chamber issues an order for the filing of written submissions related to the Pre-Trial Judge’s request to begin in abstenia proceedings. The Office of the Prosecutor, accused parties, and Defence office have until 2 November to file their submissions. A Public hearing is scheduled for 10:00 on 11 November 2011.
17 October 2011: The Pre-Trial Judge, Daniel Fransen, asks the Trial Chamber to begin proceedings in Ayyash et al. Case, in abstenia. According to the Tribunal’s mandate, a request for in abstenia proceedings may be submitted 30 days after the publication of an indictment. The 30 day period expired on Friday 15 October 2011, following the 15 September publication of wanted posted containing the names, pictures and personal details in major Lebanese newspapers.
10 October 2011: The STL Appeals Chamber rules that some witness statements must be swiftly provided to Mr. Jamil El Sayed. Mr. El Sayed requested the statements among other documents in March 2010 so that he could pursue a claim against his 2005 detention. The Chamber has also remanded the matter to the Pre-Trial judge to determine whether handing over other witness statements either pose a risk to persons or impede the Ayyash et al. proceedings.
10 October 2011: Judge Sir David Baragwanath is unanimously elected President of the Tribunal and Presiding Judge of the Appeals Chamber, after being proposed by Vice-President Riachy and Judge Cassese.
9 October 2011: Judge Antonio Cassese resigns as President of the STL on health grounds. Judge Cassese will continue to serve as a judge of the Tribunal’s Appeals Chamber.
13 September 2011: The deadline for victims of the 14 February 2005 attack to file applications is set for 31 October 2011. Anyone who has suffered a physical, material or mental harm as a direct result of the attack may submit a request to participate online.
12 September 2011: Public service announcements are made regarding arrest warrants issued for Mr. Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mr. Hussein Hassan Oneissi, Mr. Assad Hassan Sabra and Mr. Mustafa Armine Badreddine. Submitting public notice is the next step in the process of starting trial proceedings in absentia.
9 September 2011: Francois Roux, Head of the Defence Office, has adopted a legal aid policy for indigent defendants. The Tribunal’s budget for legal aid will be used to cover all necessary and reasonable costs, based on the Registrar’s calculation of their respective abilities to contribute. All defendants before STL and in absentia have been guaranteed the right to legal representation and equality of arms.
8 September 2011: Judge Antonio Cassese convenes the Trial Chamber for the case of Ayyash, et al. Judges Robert Roth of Switzerland, Micheline Braidi of Lebanon and David Re of Australia, as well as alternate judges Janet Nosworthy of Jamaica and Walid Akoum of Lebanon, will begin presiding over pre-trial matters.
7 September 2011: The Defence Office publishes a list of admitted counsel. 120 applicants have been admitted, of which 118 names and primary jurisdictions have been made public. The Defence Office continues to accept new applications.
19 August 2011: Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen rules on the Office of the Prosecutor’s jurisdiction for investigating and prosecuting cases related to three attacks. Lebanese authorities are asked to turn over files relevant to the 1 October 2004 attack on Marwan Hamadeh, the 21 June 2005 attack on George Hawi and 12 July 2005 attack on Elias El Murr. Lebanese authorities have 14 days to comply with the deferral orders.
18 August 2011: Judge Antonio Cassese orders a public advertisement of indictments of accused. The STL Registrar transmits a “form of advertisement” to Lebanese authorities and the Lebanese Prosecutor General is required to report to the STL on a monthly basis.
17 August 2011: Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen makes public the indictment and confirmation relating to the attack on former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Mr. Salim Jamil Ayyash and Mr. Mustafa Armine Badreddine have been indicted for the commission of a terrorist attack, intentional homicide, attempted intentional homicide and conspiracy to commit a terrorist act. Mr. Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Mr. Assad Hassan Sabra have been charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist attack and as accomplices to the other crimes.
11 August 2011: Judge Antonio Cassese issues an open letter urging the men accused of the attack on Rafik Hariri to participate in the trial. Judge Cassese reiterates the STL’s intent to continue the trials in absentia if necessary.
9 August 2011: Lebanese authorities report to STL on their efforts to arrest and transfer the four men accused in the attack on Rafik Hariri.