The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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August 31, 2016

The Daily Star- Defense challenges cell data as STL resumes, August 31, 2016

BEIRUT: The Rafik Hariri assassination trial resumed Tuesday at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon with testimony from the prosecution’s top telecommunications witness. Defense attorneys sought to discredit the evidence of John Edward Philips, an expert in cell-site analysis and vital to prosecution’s case. Four members of Hezbollah are being tried in absentia for killing the former prime minister; the evidence against them is based on the discovery of covert cellular networks on which the murder was allegedly plotted.
Philips is a specialist in the analysis of data generated by GSM systems. By his own estimation, he has testified about cellular evidence on more than a hundred occasions. Already admitted as an expert witness, he testified last September on the technical foundations and practical applications of cell siting.
Tuesday, defense counselors called into question his data and moved to have his reports excluded from evidence on the grounds that he had overstepped his field of expertise.
Defense attorney David Young, representing defendant Assad Sabra, suggested that call data records could have been manipulated, pointing to correspondence between the office of the prosecutor and Philips that broached such a possibility.
Last year the disclosure of these letters prompted Young to protest and abruptly halt his cross-examination. Prosecutors have said they know of no attempts to manipulate data, and were merely seeking to head off a potential line of questioning.
Philips testified Tuesday that such manipulation was possible, but inherently difficult, as many processes are automated and extraction of the data is a complex undertaking. He said cellular networks were designed to avoid irregularities and interference, and any alterations to a system would be quickly noticed by the operator.
“I didn’t see any idiosyncrasies. I didn’t see anything that couldn’t be explained, that wasn’t consistent,” Philips said. “And if I had I would have raised it.”
Defense attorneys also questioned Philips’ ability to testify about the covert networks in question. He admitted he has only dealt with a handful of cases that employed designated phones for the perpetration of a crime, none which approached the level of sophistication alleged here.
“I’ve not seen anything that even compares with the magnitude of this case,” said Philips, who will return to court tomorrow to present findings from his reports.
Monday, the court fined Al-Akhbar Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim al-Amin 20,000 euros ($22,000) for interfering with the administration of justice. The charges stem from his publishing the identities of 32 alleged secret witnesses in January 2013. The pro-Hezbollah outlet was also found guilty and fined 6,000 euros.
Amin responded in an editorial Tuesday, indicating he would not abide by the ruling. “There is no need to reiterate our position, which rejects everything that is issued by this court, and we will not, at any moment, give up to what it decides, and we will not deal with anything that it issues. ... Let the Lebanese government take the full responsibility for everything that might happen,” he wrote.
Amin has said on numerous occasions that he does not recognize the tribunal’s authority, calling it part of a Western conspiracy to incriminate Hezbollah. He did not communicate with his court-appointed attorney for the duration of his trial. Rather than pay the fine, he said the paper would urge people to raise money in support of those who fight for freedom. “As for our side, we will take the responsibility of calling on people to collect tens of thousands of dollars in order to send them to those carrying the torch of freedom. To the mujahedeen in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, to those who represent the highest moral values in a world filled with misery and humiliation.”
Hezbollah MP Hasan Fadlallah, head of Parliament’s Media and Telecommunications Committee, voiced his support for Amin, calling the judgment a “desperate attempt to silence the Lebanese media and to prevent the conveying of facts.”
Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri ruled that the fines must be paid by Sept. 30, but both sides will have two weeks from the release of his written decision to appeal.

Source & link : The Daily Star

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