STL puts a fifth element on trial – as disillusion prevails in Lebanon
The Hague-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) will re-open its trial next week for a few days, with a new element: Hassan Habib Merhi. He is the fifth in absentia suspect in one of the most dramatic political assassinations to take place in the region, which killed 22 people including Lebanon’s Prime Minister Rafik Hariri . But to those in Lebanon who have been eyeing with growing wariness the long-awaited start of the trials, this late indictment has been received with some frustration.
The STL decision to join Merhi to the first four indictees came one month after the long-awaited trial proceedings kicked off on 16 January, causing further delays in order to allow his defence to prepare their case. “If every time a new suspect is added, we have to wait seven to eight months, the delay could be a violation of the speedy delivery of justice,” complained one member of the audience at a Beirut Bar Association meeting held in March, during a joint presentation by the head of the defence office and first-time public appearance in Lebanon of prosecutor Norman Farrell, who immediately quipped back, “characterizing this as a delay implies that the answer is already out there.”
The “missing link”