So, the date has finally been set for the trial of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s alleged assassins, but until Jan. 16, it seems, those opposed to the court will do all they can to try and undermine it.
The latest effort was a report from Al-Jadeed television Tuesday evening, which featured an interview with a former investigator in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon who alleged that Wissam al-Hasan was conspicuously absent from Hariri’s convoy that Feb. 14 eight years ago and that he had chosen the specific route of the cars that day.
That same Wissam al-Hasan was himself assassinated last year, for evidence that he had helped unearth, related to the original crime.
Since the court’s first days of existence, Hezbollah has tried everything within its power to criticize the STL, its staff, its workings and its motives. Not only has this stance not worked, as witnessed by the fact the trial date inches closer and closer, but it does a disservice to Lebanon and gives an image that this country is unable to respect or work with international law and justice.
Previous international courts of justice, in Rwanda or Yugoslavia, were similarly complex and exhaustive procedures, but unlike the STL, they were allowed to operate without bombastic and ludicrous accusations of injustice from their opponents.
The accusations by Hezbollah against the tribunal might stand were it a local Lebanese court. Corruption would undoubtedly exist at some level, as would nepotism and backhand deals. But this is an international court, into which hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested. It is not only a method by which the culprits of the assassination will be found, but as with all international courts of justice, it is a standard by which all justice can be measured. It serves as a warning to terrorists and criminals around the world and a reassurance to those who have been victims of such acts of violence and injustice.
If Hezbollah genuinely thinks that such a court is susceptible to being bribed and swayed then it is fooling itself. Ever since four of its members were indicted in the assassination, it has vowed that they will never be handed over. But being indicted is not a guilty verdict. Why can’t they come forward to be tried? No one has said they are guilty. The STL has trained an entire defense team, which is prepared should the four come forward. The court does not wish to come across as biased before the trial has begun, it wishes to see justice served.
Ultimately, all of Hezbollah’s criticism of the trial and the court is completely counterproductive. It does nothing but tarnish its own image and, indirectly, that of Lebanon, internationally. It also does nothing to further its own story that it is innocent in the crime. Jan. 16 is coming, and there is nothing Hezbollah or anyone else can do to stop it.