Lebanon News

STL hears witness accounts

Back row from left, Judge Walid Akoum, Judge Janet Nosworthy, Presiding Judge David Re, Judge Micheline Braidy and Judge Nicola Lettier await the start of a trial at the courtroom of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in Leidschendam, Netherlands, Thursday, Jan. 16 , 2014.(AP Photo/Toussaint Kluiters, Pool)

BEIRUT: Prosecutors at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon read out written testimony Wednesday by witnesses who were present near the vicinity of the bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, in a hearing that focused primarily on procedural matters related to the court’s work.

One witness described in his summary read by the prosecution columns of smoke and flame that erupted after the explosion. The witness had been driving behind Hariri’s motorcade on Feb. 14, 2005.

Senior Trial Counsel Alexander Milne also mentioned the fact that the convoy’s vehicles had been moved to police stations on the night of the attack, which had prompted concerns in the past over the scene of the crime being tampered with during the initial investigation.

The hearing focused primarily on logistics and procedure, organizing evidence that had already been presented before the tribunal.

Prosecutors also showed images from the scene of the bombing and of Hariri’s entourage on the day of the attack and the weeks leading up to it. The images serve to establish Hariri’s location in the run-up to and on the day of the assassination, and will likely be used in conjunction with telecommunications evidence to show that he was under close surveillance for weeks before his death.

Judge David Re, who presides over the trial chamber, adjourned the court until Feb. 4.

The STL is tasked with investigating the Valentine’s Day 2005 bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others and plunged Lebanon into political turmoil. Five members of Hezbollah have been indicted by the Hague-based court, four of whom are now being tried in absentia at the tribunal’s headquarters in the Netherlands.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 30, 2014, on page 3.




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