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MONDAY, 21 APR 2014
12:47 AM Beirut time
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Lebanon Audit Bureau approves STL funding
File - An exterior view of the building that will house the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, in Leidschendam, Netherlands, Tuesday Feb. 24, 2009. (AP Photo/ Bas Czerwinski)
File - An exterior view of the building that will house the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, in Leidschendam, Netherlands, Tuesday Feb. 24, 2009. (AP Photo/ Bas Czerwinski)
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BEIRUT: The government’s financial watchdog has approved a decree that will pay Lebanon’s contribution to the budget of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the court investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The signing of the decree by Judge Awni Ramadan, the head of the Audit Bureau, paves the way for Lebanon to fulfill the long-overdue debt to the court, which will begin the trial of four Hezbollah suspects accused of complicity in the assassination next month.

The Bureau confirmed in a statement Monday that the funding had been approved.

Lebanon owes $38 million to the Hague-based court for 2013, or 49 percent of its budget.

The government has been facing increasing diplomatic pressure to make the payments in recent weeks, including from the European Union.

The decree must now be sent by the finance minister to caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and President Michel Sleiman for their signatures.

After that, it must be signed by the foreign and justice ministers. The Justice Ministry can then channel the funds to the court.

The funding of the STL has often been the subject of controversy due to Hezbollah’s opposition to the court, which brands it a U.S.-Zionist conspiracy against the resistance group.

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