BEIRUT: Ahead of the start of the trial Thursday at The Hague, the Daily Star has compiled biographies for several key figures at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
PRESIDENT Sir David Baragwanath has been the President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon since 2011 when his predecessor, Judge Antonio Cassese, resigned from the post for health reasons. According to the STL website, Baragwanath is responsible for “oversight of the effective functioning of the Tribunal and the good administration of justice, as well as representing the STL in relations with States, the United Nations and other entities.”Baragwanath had a long legal career in his native New Zealand, where he was president of the national Law Commission for five years.
He has lectured at leading institutions across the globe, including Cambridge University, on subjects related to international law.
Upon his appointment as the president of the Tribunal, Baragwanath insisted on the neutrality of the court.
“The people of Lebanon are entitled to receive from our tribunal the highest standards of justice delivered without fear or favor, affection or ill will,” he said.
“Essential among its elements is the presumption of innocence, expressed in the twin rules that the onus of proof lies on the prosecution; and that proof of every element charged must be beyond reasonable doubt. I want to assure all Lebanese people that we see ourselves as your judges,” he added.
Prosecutor Normal Farrell, who hails from Canada, has considerable experience in international criminal trials. Before U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon named him as the lead prosecutor of the STL in 2012, Farrell was the deputy prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Between 2002 and 2003, he served in the Appeals section of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Prior to his work with international criminal courts, Farrell was a legal adviser to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent. During his time at ICRC, Farrell worked on projects related to humanitarian and criminal law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia and Switzerland.
Farrell has also helped train judges and prosecutors from Indonesia, Cambodia and Sierra Leone in an effort to bolster legal institutions in those countries.
The defense office is headed by Francois Roux who appointed the nine lawyers representing the five Hezbollah suspects. In international criminal cases, the defense office is often part of the registry, the court organ that deals with administrative matters. The STL is the first trial in which the defense has its own, independent office.
Roux has previously stated that although the role of the defense in legal cases is often neglected, it is a crucial element of justice. “In the years that I worked as a defense lawyer at international tribunals, I noticed inadequate respect for defense lawyers,” he said in an interview last spring.
“At first sight, it might seem contradictory to have the will to fight impunity whilst defending the alleged perpetrators. However, the prosecutor fights impunity, the judge must judge impartially, and the defense lawyer has to defend the rights of the accused,” he said in an interview last Spring. “I have become a defense lawyer because I believe in the specific role of the defense lawyer in the service of justice.”
Roux, a French national, has had a long career defending controversial and unpopular figures.
In addition to defending Khamer Rouge leaders at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Roux consulted the defense team of Zacarias Moussaoui, who pled guilty to involvement in the Sept. 11, 2011, terror attacks.
He is a member of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, a “citizen-led initiative whose intent is to expose third party [EU, U.N., U.S. and corporations’] complicity in Israel’s violations of Palestinians’ Human Rights.”
The fourth and final organ of the court, the registry, is led by Daryl A. Mundis, who was appointed to the position last spring when his predecessor, Herman von Hebel, took a position at the International Criminal Court. He was previously the chief of prosecutions for the STL. Mundis is responsible for the budget of the tribunal, for protecting and supporting witnesses and general administrative duties.
Previously, Mundis was the Senior Prosecuting Attorney at the ICTY and was the lead counsel in cases against several high profile war criminals.
Mundis, an American, worked with the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate’s General Corps in Philadelphia before joining the ICTY. “If I joined the Navy to see the world I would have been disappointed. My first assignment took me all of 90 miles down the New Jersey Turnpike to Philadelphia,” Mundis joked in an interview with his Alma Mater, Columbia Law School.
FOUR LEBANESE STL JUDGES
Judge Ralph Riachi, the vice-president of the tribunal, is the former head of the Commerce Tribunal in Beirut. He also worked in the Financial Public Prosecutor’s Office from 1992 to 1993 and led the Court of Appeals at Mount Lebanon and was elected as an ad litem judge at the ICTY in 2000.
He resigned from Lebanon’s Supreme Judicial Council in 2008 in protest of delays in judicial postings.
Judge Afif Chamseddine, a long-time professor of law at the Lebanese University, is among the Appeals Chamber judges. Between 1996 and 2008 Chamseddine was president of the Third Criminal Chamber of the Lebanese Court of Cassation and a member of the Court of Justice.
Judge Micheline Braidi, who has worked in the Criminal Chamber of the of the Court of Appeal of Mount Lebanon and at the at the Lebanese Court of Cassation, is serving as a Trial Chamber judge at the STL. A graduate of Université Saint Joseph, Braidi also earned a master’s degree in diplomacy and strategic negotiations from the Université Paris-Sud XI, as well as a second master’s from Université la Sagesse.
Walid Akoum is an alternate Trial Chamber judge at the STL. Akoum has served as an investigative judge and in the Indictment Chamber of South Lebanon. Akoum was involved in training Yemeni judges and led a session on fair trial principles in 2010.