BEIRUT: A prosecutor at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon asked for the arrest of Al-Akhbar newspaper’s editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin and demanded that he appear before the court in The Hague, in the latest twist in a controversial case against the media outlet and its top journalist.
Kenneth Scott, the lawyer prosecuting Amin for allegedly disclosing what may be the identities of confidential witnesses, asked “that the Court issue a new summons... requiring Mr. Ibrahim Al Amin, Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. and the newly appointed counsel, Mr. Antonios Abou Kasm, to all appear live, physically present at a hearing in The Hague.”
“If necessary to bring the Accused before the court, arrest warrants should be issued,” Scott said in a filing before the court’s contempt judge, Nicola Lettieri.
The STL is tasked with prosecuting those responsible for the Valentine’s Day bombing in 2005 that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others and plunged Lebanon into turmoil.
Amin is charged with contempt of court and obstruction of justice over reports published by Al-Akhbar last year that included the personal details of individuals that the newspaper said were confidential court witnesses.
The STL argues that the move was aimed at intimidating witnesses and undermining public confidence in the tribunal.
Amin appeared at an initial hearing before the court in May, during which he lambasted the tribunal and dramatically walked out from the session, saying he would maintain “complete silence” throughout the proceedings and rejecting any court-appointed defense lawyers.
The STL appointed Abou Kasm, a Lebanese lawyer, to defend Amin earlier this month. The editor has appealed the decision.
Scott said his latest move was driven by Amin's refusal to clarify whether he would take part in his trial and his repeated assertions that he would not respect court orders, raising fears that the editor may choose to leak confidential evidence in the case against him, such as the identity of witnesses.
In an initial response to Scott’s request, Al-Akhbar published an article that criticized the tribunal for taking “punitive measures” against Amin.