BEIRUT: The U.N.-backed court set up to prosecute the killers of statesman Rafik Hariri condemned Tuesday recent media outlets for publishing names of alleged witnesses.
Al-Akhbar newspaper last week claimed to have revealed the identity of witnesses in a recent report, saying their story showed the “nature of the prosecution’s evidence, which is circumstantial at best.”
“The Tribunal denounces in the strongest possible terms any attempts at witness intimidation,” the STL said in a statement.
“Publicly identifying individuals as potential STL witnesses may endanger these individuals whether or not they are linked to the Tribunal,” the statement added.
Al-Akhbar, a staunch critic of the international tribunal and the court process, published the names, photos and information of a number of individuals it claimed were being named as witnesses by the STL prosecution.
Al-Akhbar said the witnesses’ names, ages and occupation were leaked from within the tribunal.
In its statement Tuesday, the STL warned that the tribunal has the power to determine and enforce legal rights.
“Any efforts by individuals or the media to disclose confidential material or to undermine the administration of justice are taken very seriously by the STL's four organs.
“Persons who disclose confidential information from the STL may be in direct contravention of judicial orders and be subject to judicial proceedings for contempt.
The STL was set up in 2007, two years after Hariri’s assassination when a truck bomb exploded in Downtown Beirut.
In 2011 the prosecution indicted four members of Hezbollah in absentia for the bombing and has been slowly moving toward a trial. So far the case revealed by the prosecution hinges on cellphone data and testimony of over 550 witnesses.