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ISF officer testifies at Special Tribunal

File - The Judges Walid Akoum, Janet Nosworthy, David Re, Micheline Braidy and Nicola Lettier (LtoR) in the courtroom of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague, The Netherlands, January 16 , 2014. REUTERS/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos/POOL

BEIRUT: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon Wednesday heard testimony from ISF officer Mohammad Kheireddine, part of the security forces team present at the site of the blast that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.

Kheireddine, now a first officer in the ISF, was an adjutant with the security agency’s Judicial Police at the time of Hariri’s Valentine’s Day assassination. According to his testimony, he examined eight bodies in the wake of the attack, and was present when members of the ISF photographed the crime scene.

The prosecution, which has accused five Hezbollah members of planning and executing the attack that killed Hariri and 21 others, has made extensive use of crime scene photos and forensic evidence taken by security forces.

Expert prosecution witnesses have relied on photos and footage of the bomb crater to formulate their conclusion that the explosives were hidden in a truck and were detonated as Hariri’s convoy passed.

Lawyers for the accused, however, have argued that the bomb could have been detonated underground. The defense has also tried to show that the crime scene was not properly managed in the aftermath of the attack, and has questioned the integrity of evidence collected at the scene.

Kheireddine initially gave a witness statement to the United Nations investigative body in August 2005, six months after the attack, and co-authored two reports with the ISF which included photographic evidence about the assassination.

In May, the STL prosecution sought to have Kheireddine’s written witness statement admitted into evidence in lieu of oral testimony. The move was opposed by the defense team of Hassan Habib Merhi, one of the accused.

Trial Chamber judges granted the request on the condition that Kheireddine be made available to the defense for cross-examination.

Kheireddine appeared by videolink during Tuesday’s proceedings.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 23, 2014, on page 4.

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Summary

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon Wednesday heard testimony from ISF officer Mohammad Kheireddine, part of the security forces team present at the site of the blast that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005 .

Kheireddine initially gave a witness statement to the United Nations investigative body in August 2005, six months after the attack, and co-authored two reports with the ISF which included photographic evidence about the assassination.

In May, the STL prosecution sought to have Kheireddine's written witness statement admitted into evidence in lieu of oral testimony.


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