The Special Tribunal for Lebanon resumed Tuesday with the acrimonious cross-examination of prosecutorial analyst Kei Kamei, as defense counselor Guénaël Mettraux walked her through testimony on Ahmad Abu Adass, a man who appeared in a video claiming the responsibility for the Rafik Hariri assassination. Representing the interests of Assad Sabra, one of five members of Hezbollah being tried in absentia for their involvement in the February 2005 assassination of the former prime minister, Mettraux traversed scores of documents and sought comment on highly specific statements from dozens of individuals in his questioning. Kamei, who analyzed call sequence tables and assisted investigations for the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission, was largely unable to recall such details. The UNIIIRC was established in April 2005, and was superseded by the STL in 2009.
Mettraux’s approach, which elicited little information from the witness, was met with repeated interruption from judges and objections from Prosecutor Alexander Milne. The court excused the witness to discuss the matter nearly as soon as he had begun examination.
Milne contended that Kamei would not be able to verify the truth of what was said in the interviews she had conducted with witnesses.
“If my friend wishes to prove this evidence he should call those witnesses, or seek to adduce their evidence by another route. This is not the way to do it,” Milne said.
Presiding Judge David Re was even more critical. “You can’t keep going this way with this witness ... there’s virtually no evidentiary value in that.”
But Mettraux contended that it was his duty to put evidence in front of the court, and admonished the prosecution for not doing the same.
“This witness, for good or bad reasons, claimed to remember nothing about something she worked on for 10 years. We wish to show you who did it. And we think we can,” he told the bench.
Kamei returned for extensive questioning on her interviews with people who knew Abu Adass and analysis of call data from the days surrounding his disappearance in January 2005.
The prosecution contends that Abu Adass was manipulated into creating the videotaped claim of responsibility by defendant Hussein Oneissi, and that Sabra called Al-Jazeera television station shortly after the bombing to give them instructions for finding it.
With scant participation from the witness, Mettraux sought to establish links between individuals who knew Abu Adass, Syrian intelligence figures, and the Islamic charity organization Al-Ahbash, which had featured prominently in the early stages of the UNIIIRC’s investigation. Two of its members were jailed in connection with the assassination, but later released.
Kamei will return to the stand Wednesday after receiving instructions from the court to retrieve and review her files relating to the interviews. The tribunal is also seeking to schedule significant time for the cross-examination of a senior investigator who conducted them with her.