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Al Jadeed journalist Karma Khayat flanked by defence lawyers at the opening hearing of her contempt trial (Photo: Flickr/STLebanon)
04 May 2015

IJT 181 examines what two contempt cases at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon show about the main in absentia trial seeking to uncover who killed Lebanese ex-premier Rafik Hariri.

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Karma Khayat flanked by defence lawyers at the opening hearing of her contempt trial
04 May 2015 by Karina Hof, Leidschendam (The Netherlands)

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) last month began hearing one of two contempt cases. Each charges a Lebanese media company [IJT-167] and a senior journalist with having “knowingly and wilfully interfered with the administration of justice” by publicizing information about purported confidential witnesses in the main Ayyash et al. case.

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Images in Beirut commemorating Rafik Hariri, who died ten years ago (Photo: Ana Uzelac)
09 March 2015 by Karina Hof, Leidschendam (The Netherlands)

This month the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) embarked on a newly reissued three-year mandate. Compared to other international courts, its principal task remains narrow: to try those accused of carrying out the 14 February 2005 assassination of ex-prime minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others in downtown Beirut. But since the Ayyash et al. trial opened in January 2014, expectations of what it might accomplish have soared beyond its headquarters in the Hague suburb of Leidschendam – and beyond Lebanon.

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STL Courtroom in The Hague
03 December 2014 by Karina Hof, Leidschendam (The Netherlands)

“A sea change” was the phrase repeated by defence teams at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) to decry what they saw as a radical, unexpected departure from the prosecution’s case against five Hezbollah members accused of operating the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.

Ayyash et al.