BEIRUT: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon convened its latest conference Tuesday by saying that it would reassess the preparedness of the legal team for a newly adjoined defendant at some point next month, according to statements on the body’s official Twitter account.
The Hague-based tribunal held a one-day status conference to examine how much time was needed for Hassan Merhi’s defense team to get up to speed with the case, after he was named as the fifth suspect last month in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
“Counsel for Mr. Merhi stressed the importance of the preparatory phase ‘to analyse the case file & evidence calmly and independently,’” the STL tweeted Tuesday.
The Prosecutor’s Office is set to file a new, consolidated indictment for the five suspects by March 7.
Merhi’s defense team has recruited a legal staff member and another translator to help them with the case load, according to the STL, while in court today his lawyers “suggested convening another conference in 6-7 weeks to discuss the readiness of his [Merhi’s] team once relevant material is reviewed.”
As he adjourned the day’s hearing, Presiding Judge David Re said another status conference “would be convened in the future, as needed,” according to the tweeted statement.
The trial chamber also discussed developments in the cooperation between Lebanon and the STL.
The legal team of Assad Hassan Sabra “noted receiving a reply from the Lebanese authorities to a joint request made in 2012 & is now in the process of reviewing it.”
The Mustafa Amine Badreddine’s counsel said a cooperation request to Lebanon sent in May 2013 had not yet received a response.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 05, 2014, on page 4.