Lebanon: new hybrid tribunal in the works

24 July 2006 by Jerome Mayer-Cantu

At a time when Lebanon is being plunged into crisis, the UN International Independent Investigation Commission which is laying the groundwork for a new hybrid tribunal to try the perpetrators of the bombing attack that killed Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005, has made decisive progress. The statute of the court, its legal system, location and other logistical questions have nearly been finalized, according to Lebanese legal sources.

In July, two Lebanese judges visited the UN's New York headquarters for a meeting to work out the final details of witness protection, transportation, and future funding for the tribunal. These discussions officially began in January 2006 when Nicholas Michel, the United Nations Undersecretary for Legal Affairs visited Lebanon to begin discussions with officials concerning the establishment of a tribunal with an "international character" - a hybrid court similar to those established in Sierra Leone and East Timor. In February, two Lebanese judges, Ralph Riachi and Choukri Sader, visited New York for three days in order to meet with Michel and discuss several distinct proposals for the court. These same judges returned for a second meeting in June to determine the court's ultimate shape, and are now finalizing their decisions.

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