Lebanon News

STL begins hearing about key telecoms data

File - A pre-trial conference for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. (The Daily Star/STL, HO)

BEIRUT: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon began hearing evidence about how the prosecution assembled call sequence records Monday.

The witness, Kei Kamei, worked to produce coherent call sequence tables from huge files of raw data provided by Lebanese telecommunications companies.

The call sequence tables and data records show who the alleged suspects were calling and from where, at given times. The data is an integral part of the prosecution’s case, as prosecutor Graeme Cameron said explicitly in his opening arguments. “The analysis of cellular telephone communication data retained by service providers in Lebanon in and around the material time is one of the central evidentiary features of the case for the prosecution,” Cameron said.

The prosecution says it is able to tie five Hezbollah members to a series of different telephone networks that were active at key times, and in key places, corresponding to a calculated conspiracy to kill former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on Feb. 14, 2005.

Specifically, three “networks” or groups of phones, which the prosecution has called the green network, the blue network and the red network, were used by the co-conspirators to run surveillance on Hariri and eventually coordinate his execution.

Given the emphasis placed on the call data records at the beginning of trial, it seems unlikely that the prosecution could win its case without proving the accuracy and importance of the data.

While the defense has yet to mount its case, lawyers representing the five Hezbollah members have strongly called into question the call data records.

Kamei’s testimony was a first foray into discussing in court the technical details surrounding the collection and analysis of the call records.

In court Monday, Kamei explained that raw data collected from the Lebanese telecoms companies is often not in chronological order. Her work included creating time-ordered list of calls and texts made and received by certain phone numbers.

Kamei touched briefly on the issue of cellphones connecting nearby cell towers, but said that she was not the most qualified witness to discuss this technology. Data from the cell towers, the prosecution claims, illustrate the movements of those involved in the conspiracy to kill Hariri.

Kamei will continue her testimony in court Tuesday.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 21, 2015, on page 3.

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