Lebanon News

STL defense, prosecution spar over testimony

File - A view of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon building in The Hague. (The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: Members of the defense counsel and the prosecution engaged in an icy exchange at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Wednesday over the former’s sweeping cross-examination of a witness. The defense had grilled Argentine bomb crater expert Daniel Ambrosini on subjects including his contacts with Israelis and whether an air missile could have been responsible for the massive explosion that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others.

Prosecutor Alexander Milne chided the defense for having “impugned” the witness with questions related to his attendance at a conference in Haifa and about his conversations with Israeli authorities. Moreover, Milne expressed frustration that members of the defense appeared to introduce a new theory into the case by raising the possibility of an airborne missile.

“The defense should be careful what they wish for. If we are being invited to call evidence to deal ... with missiles in the sky, we will do so,” Milne said.

Iain Edwards, a member of the defense team for top Hezbollah operative Mustafa Badreddine, dismissed the criticism. “Frankly, I’m not going to explain why I asked the questions to you or for the benefit of any other party in this room,” Edwards said.

While the prosecution maintains that a Mitsubishi Canter van rigged with 2,500 kilograms of explosives was responsible for the blast, the defense has suggested that alternative scenarios, particularly a bomb planted below ground, were not adequately investigated.

Ambrosini admitted in court that when he first read about the size of the explosion he assumed an underground bomb was responsible. “At the outset, I thought that we were dealing with an underground explosive. As we moved forward in our work I realized it could not have been,” he said. Ambrossini and his colleague, Bibianca Luccioni, determined that an above-ground bomb was in fact responsible for the blast.

Testimony from Luccioni will begin Thursday and is expected to take the rest of the week.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 26, 2015, on page 3.

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