BEIRUT: A prosecution analyst testified before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Tuesday in Leidschendam, the Netherlands, describing the creation of an “atlas” to map the movements and cellphone usage of alleged conspirators. The court is trying four defendants charged with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut in 2005.
Helena Habraken gave evidence on the preparation and contents of the 900-page document, but was only able to provide limited information during the contentious proceedings.
Defense counselors Thomas Hannis and Guenael Mettraux objected to the late disclosure of Habraken’s prepared statement on the collection of maps. Though the atlas itself was disclosed last year, prosecutors only solicited and disclosed her statement last week.
Both men argued that the late disclosure afforded them scant opportunity to prepare effective cross-examination. Mettraux argued disclosure delays were affecting the “equality of arms” between the prosecution and defense, making it impossible for them to adequately counter the evidence being presented or pursue alternate theories of responsibility for the assassination. The attorneys’ repeated objections, and subsequent responses by judges and prosecutors, occupied a significant portion of the day’s proceedings.
Habraken has appeared before the tribunal before. In July 2015, she was one of a series of prosecution analysts who testified on the compilation of call sequence tables, or CSTs. The tables chronologically record the activity of specific phone numbers, including the time and duration of calls, the content of text messages and geographic information on the whereabouts of the user and the numbers they were in contact with. The information they contain is derived from call data records and coverage maps handed over by Lebanon’s two cellular networks, Alfa and touch. The defense has repeatedly challenged the reliability of the CSTs, and suggested that errors may have been introduced during their preparation.
The atlas primarily serves as a visual representation of the data contained in the CSTs, and contains a series of maps showing the coverage of cell sites that play a role in the prosecution’s case. Prosecutors said it contains information similar to the “electronic presentation of evidence,” a digital depiction of alleged conspirators’ movements and communications that they will present later in the trial. The atlas reportedly differs in that it is a physical document, and also details how discrepancies in the different sets of data turned over by the networks might have affected cellular coverage.
Both include coverage maps of Lebanon, particularly in and around Beirut. Prosecutors referred to maps of coverage near the seafront St. Georges Hotel, where the bombing took place, and Haret Hreik, a southern suburb where prosecutors contend the assassination was coordinated. The latter is notable for being home to Hezbollah’s headquarters.
Each of the four defendants allegedly had ties to the powerful Shiite party. Mustafa Badreddine, removed from the indictment following his death in May, was a senior military commander for the group.
The trial will resume Wednesday. Hearings are scheduled to continue for the rest of the week.
Source & Link : The Daily Star