So indicated that Prosecutor, Daniel A. Bellemare (right), last week in Ottawa, Canada. (photo credit)
Bellemare spoke at a conference about which we've posted here and here: "Globalization of Crime - Criminal Justice Responses," cosponsored by 2 Vancouver-based groups the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law and the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform & Criminal Justice Policy.
Since he was appointed in March 2009, Bellemare has seen the Tribunal, set up in the wake of the 2005 Beirut assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, and others, take shape. Judges have been appointed to serve at the Tribunal headquarters, in a suburb of The Hague, Netherlands. Investigations have been undertaken. Developments in 2011 include:
►On February 16, pursuant to Rule 68(G), added to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence last November, the Appeals Chamber delivered to the Pre-Trial Judge an Interlocutory Decision on the Applicable Law: Terrorism, Conspiracy, Homicide, Perpetration, Cumulative Charging (available in Arabic, English, and French here). The decision set forth the meaning of "terrorism" in Tribunal proceedings. It represents an interpretation of Lebanese law somewhat "expanded," Bellemare said of the definition, about which this 'Grrl's written a skeptical post.
► On June 28, Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen confirmed an indictment, but ordered it sealed for the time being.
► On July 8, Judge Fransen issued international arrest warrants, continued the sealing order, and authorized the prosecution to ask Interpol to issue a red notice (prior post), or "wanted person alert," for each indictee.
► 10 days later, on July 28, the same Pre-Trial Judge granted Bellemare's request to lift confidentiality a wee bit, so that the following information could "be immediately disseminated in public fora": "(i) full name and aliases; (ii) date and place of birth, nationality, last known address, father's name, passport number and civil registration number; (iii) charges against him; and (iv) photographs."
Thus it is now officially known that 4 Lebanese men are under indictment for "crimes involving the use of weapons/explosives" and "terrorism" in connection with the Hariri killing: Salim Jamil Ayyash, 47; Mustafa Amine Badreddine, 50; Hussein Hassan Oneissi, 37, and Assad Hassan Sabra, 34.
Pretty much everything else about the prosecution, however, remains secret. That secrecy has created a vacuum, filled in Beirut with all manner of conjecture.
And so Bellemare awaits his day in court.
Acknowledging the rampant rumor mill, he told his Ottawa audience:
'We have to be patient, to wait for an appropriate time. My answer to that is "See you in court."'
Acknowledging that a segment of society in Lebanon (flag at left) is strongly in favor of the Tribunal while another is strongly opposed, Bellemare asserted that "a huge slice" is undecided, and that once its full contents are unsealed, "the indictment will will make up their minds."
That public reading of the indictment may occur in a courtroom devoid of defendants.
Unique among contemporary international/ized criminal fora, the Tribunal is permitted to conduct trials in absentia. This provision in Article 22 of the Tribunal Statute has caused consternation even among "some donors," Bellemare said. He added that he is prepared if necessary to prosecute in this manner, "though it is not my preferred option."