BEIRUT: Just days after the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s provisional trial start date was postponed, significant amendments were made to the court’s rules of procedure and evidence, mainly in order to speed up proceedings.
At a plenary meeting Monday, STL judges approved a number of amendments to the Hague-based court’s rule book, several of which were “minor and technical in nature,” a news release from the U.N. Tribunal said. Those listed as “significant” largely relate to expediting the process.
Amendments designed to “speed up proceedings” include: assigning more power to a single judge of the chamber (under Rule 36) and allowing cases of contempt and false testimony to be heard by a single judge (under Rule 60bis and 152).
Amendments to Rule 70 are also intended to expedite proceedings. Now, when “two or more cases are joined into one, the trial chamber already seized of one of them may assume the powers of the pretrial judge,” the news release said.
Also, an adjustment to Rule 89(E) means that the pretrial judge can now refer any matter which he believes should be adjudicated prior to the formal transmission of the case file to the trial chamber, enabling it to consider the matters ahead of the hearing.
Finally, a change to Rule 7 means deadlines set by the Tribunal will now be counted as calendar days and not working days.
The STL is investigating the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others. Four Hezbollah members have been indicted in the case, which was due to go to trial on March 25.
Last week pretrial judge Daniel Fransen postponed this start date in response to a motion by the defense, and a new start date has yet to be set.