BEIRUT: The U.N. secretary-general appointed Daryl A. Mundis as registrar of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the court announced in a statement Wednesday. Mundis, an American national, succeeded former Registrar Herman von Hebel, who stepped down in March after being appointed to the International Criminal Court.
He is the tribunal’s fourth registrar in as many years.
The STL is tasked with prosecuting those responsible for carrying out the Feb. 14, 2005, attack that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others. Four members of Hezbollah have been indicted by the court, which is preparing to try them in absentia.
“I am honored that the secretary-general has trusted me with this important responsibility at this particularly significant juncture in the history of the STL,” Mundis said in a statement.
“I very much look forward to continuing to work closely with my colleagues in Leidschendam, Beirut and New York in moving forward with our work to fulfill the tribunal’s mandate.”
The appointment of the new registrar, responsible for fundraising, points to Lebanon’s failure so far to pay its annual contribution to the court, nearly $39 million this year.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government collapsed in March before paying its 49 percent share of the budget, now months overdue.
The court said it was confident Lebanon would pay its share.
“We are confident that the Lebanese government will honor this international obligation as it has in the past,” STL spokesperson Marten Youssef told The Daily Star. “Although the tribunal has been financed by 28 countries in the past, we do rely on the Lebanese contribution.”
Youssef said preparation for the trial would be a priority for the registrar.
Earlier this year, Daniel Fransen, the tribunal’s pretrial judge, postponed the start of trial, initially scheduled for March. No new date has been set.
“As we are preparing for a new trial date, the focus of the registry and the registrar is to provide the logistical, administrative and judicial support to the other sections to ensure an efficient trial,” Youssef said.
The tribunal has been criticized in the past for frequent changes to its top leadership, but Youssef said they would have no impact on the start of trial or on morale.
“The work of the tribunal has never been about one person; it is a collective effort,” he said. “No single person is indispensable.”
Mundis was appointed as deputy registrar in January, after over three years as the STL’s chief of prosecutions. He has been serving as acting registrar since April.
Judge David Baragwanath, the STL’s president, said Mundis would “work to ensure that in helping deliver justice to Lebanon we guarantee a fair trial to the accused.”
On top of fundraising, the tribunal’s registrar is in charge of the budget, relations with states, court management and other administrative duties. He also oversees the witness protection and victim participation unit.
Mundis worked for 10 years at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague prior to joining the STL, where he was lead prosecutor on a number of high profile cases pertaining to war crimes committed in the Balkans in the 1990s.