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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November 29, 2010

Naharnet - Paris: Indictment will be Issued Even if Hizbullah Seeks to Topple Government - November 29, 2010

A high-ranking French official said the international tribunal will issue its indictment in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination case even if Hizbullah tried to topple the Lebanese government.
"No matter what Hizbullah does to obstruct the government or even topple it … the indictment will be issued," the source told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat in remarks published Monday.
"Even if Lebanon stops to finance the court, there are enough funds to issue the indictment," the source said.
The official confirmed that French President Nicolas Sarkozy was working with all Arab officials involved with the situation in Lebanon to avert a deteriorating situation in the country.
Premier Saad Hariri's visit to Paris this week comes as part of Sarkozy's support for the Lebanese government, the source told al-Hayat. He added that Syrian President Bashar Assad's expected visit to the French capital in the next few days was also aimed at continuing French-Syrian dialogue over Lebanon.
Asked about a possible Syrian rejection of the tribunal's indictment, the source said: "The court is independent and no one can stop its work … All of us, including Syria, should calm the situation."
"We hope that Lebanon's political life does not become the victim of an indictment which no one knows when will be issued or whom it will accuse," the official added.

Now Lebanon - Houri: Present info on Israeli telecom infiltration to STL - November 29, 2010

Information about Israeli infilitration of the telecommunications sector must be presented to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) as soon as possible “because it is the suitable authority to evaluate it and to study its effect on the tribunal’s work,” Lebanon First bloc MP Ammar Houri said on Monday.
Much of the information presented by Telecommunications Minister Charbel Nahhas on the subject is “technical and can only be discussed technically,” Houri told As-Sharq radio.
Tension is high in Lebanon amid unconfirmed reports that the STL will soon issue an indictment in its investigation of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s 2005 assassination. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported on November 21 that the STL has telecommunications evidence strongly linking Hezbollah to the murder.
Israeli penetration of Lebanon’s telecom sector is “clear and proven,” Nahhas said in a press conference on Tuesday.
In a speech on Sunday, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that any evidence based on the telecom sector is valueless because Israel controls the sector, and that a compromise must be reached before the indictment is issued.

Naharnet - STL Raised in Hariri Tehran Visit, Iran's Approach to Hariri Court Based on 'Stability' - November 29, 2010

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon has been raised in Prime Minister Saad Hariri's visit to Tehran, the daily An-Nahar reported Monday.
    Hariri held late night talks Sunday with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Earlier Sunday, Hariri met other Iranian officials. An-Nahar said the Iranian officials expressed their support to efforts to uncover the truth behind the 2005 assassination of their "great friend" -- former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. It said the Iranian approach to the STL stressed the crucial need for stability in Lebanon. An-Nahar said Iran also undermined support for Syrian-Saudi efforts to reach a settlement to the crisis over an indictment to be issued by the STL. The indictment is reportedly set to implicate Hizbullah members in the Hariri murder. Meanwhile, Al-Akhbar newspaper said the key to a solution lies in Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's hands. It said Iranian officials reminded Hariri that a regional settlement to the crisis lies in the hands of Damascus and Riyadh, while the Lebanon solution was nothing but Sayyed Nasrallah.

November 26, 2010

The Daily Star - World must do more to combat violence against women and girls - November 26, 2010

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. I take this opportunity to call on the international community to work harder to counter violence against women worldwide. 
Violence against women and girls is probably the most widespread human rights violation of our time. It claims millions of victims each year, cuts across age, socio-economic, educational and geographic boundaries and affects all societies. 
Sexual violence and rape as a tool of war bring about grave suffering and undermine peace-building as well as economic development. The tenth anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 is an opportunity to strengthen the fight against sexual violence, to empower women to take action in securing peace and to bring perpetrators to justice. A decade after the fact, the EU is ready to lead by example. 
However, violence against women is by no means a problem limited to conflicts. Eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls is a priority for the European Union. I urge all countries to step up their fight against impunity and to protect and reintegrate victims of violence. These include women and girls affected by harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, female infanticide and pre-natal sex selection as well as victims of domestic violence, which is one of the most common and least visible forms of violence against women. The EU will support third countries in their efforts. 
The establishment of a new UN entity dedicated to women’s rights and gender equality, “UN Women,” should help bolster the capacity of the international community to counter violence against women. I look forward to close collaboration with UN Women. 

Catherine Ashton is the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The Daily Star - Court indictment precursor to strife - Hizbullah MP - November 26, 2010

BEIRUT: Hibzullah’s Loyalty to Resistance parliamentary bloc MP Hussein Moussawi said the impending indictment by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) probing the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was a precursor to strife in the country. Moussawi said the indictment was the brainchild of the United States, adding that the US sought its interests and those of Israel through attempts to incite divisions and strife in Lebanon. He added that the Lebanese should uphold national unity and support the resistance against US-Israeli plots to “falsely implicate it.” The Hizbullah official said the US sought to incriminate the resistance and involve it in a clash with the international community and “make it prey for international justice.”– The Daily Star

The Daily Star - Alain Aoun calls for united stance on Tribunal - November 26, 2010

BEIRUT: Change and Reform bloc MP Alain Aoun confirmed Thursday that the Lebanese wanted to know the truth behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri but feared justice would turn into a pressure tool. Aoun spoke during a television interview with New TV and commented on the impending indictment to be issued by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is probing the 2005 assassination of Hariri. The MP called for a unified Lebanese stance in dealing with the indictment, once given, and warned that some powerful countries were trying to use the STL as a tool to destroy Hizbullah’s opposition to Israel. “Unfortunately, speaking the truth in Lebanon is today considered radicalism,” he said, questioning how the March 14 forces could call on Lebanese to trust the STL amid flawed investigations. He also voiced fears that some Lebanese groups were hoping the STL would help eliminate Hizbullah. –The Daily Star

The Daily Star - Watchdog slams Lebanon's lack of commitment to rights HRW warns failure to adopt UN equality recommendations will result in continued abuse - November 26, 2010

By Patrick Galey BEIRUT: Lebanon’s failure to adopt United Nations equality recommendations will result in the continued abuse and mistreatment of women, refugees, migrants and homosexuals, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Thursday.
During this month’s UN Human Right’s Council review, held by member states in New York, the Lebanese delegation agreed to form a National Commission on Human Rights, designed to criminalize all forms of torture and ill-treatment in the country.
HRW, however, was unimpressed with the level of commitment made by officials. “Lebanon agreed to some reforms but missed an opportunity to tackle some of its longstanding human rights problems,” said Nadim Houry, Beirut director at HRW.
According to the organization, the Lebanese delegation dismissed recommendations that would have safeguarded fair treatment for some of the country’s most marginalized groups. The measures, if adopted, would “promote equality for women, provide Palestinian refugees with the right to own property, protect migrants from frequent abuse, decriminalize homosexuality, and abolish the death penalty.”
Most notable among the failures cited by HRW was the delegation’s inability to agree upon laws that prevent discrimination against women. Although Lebanon supported a recommendation to pass a law protecting women from domestic violence, it rejected the chance to amend its citizenship law to allow Lebanese women to pass their citizenship to their spouses and children. It also failed to remove discriminatory aspects of the country’s personal status laws, HRW said.
In addition, the delegation failed to agree on specific measures to protect the wellbeing of Lebanon’s estimated 200,000 migrant workers.
Bangladesh, a country that provides thousands of workers to the Lebanese marketplace each year, “expressed concern at some instances of poor working conditions and violations of the rights of migrant workers,” according to the UN’s report on the human rights review session.
Lebanon also rejected recommendations to amend a long-standing law barring the country’s 400,000 Palestinian refugees from registering property, in spite of the passing of legislation in August designed to improve their working conditions.
Palestine’s UN delegation said that successive conflicts in Lebanon “had hampered developments in the area of human rights.” It accused lawmakers in Beirut of continually depriving refugees of various civic freedoms.
“Countries as different as Finland and Brazil called on Lebanon to end discrimination against Palestinians,” Houry said. “One important way to improve the status of Palestinians would be to amend Lebanon’s property law to allow them to register their property, just like any other foreigner.”
Several states called on Lebanon to establish a moratorium or abolish the death penalty, but the delegation rejected the recommendations.
HRW had previously voiced concerns over the power held by Lebanese military courts to issue the death sentence to – or detain without trial – suspects which are often subjected to abuse during interrogation. The UNHCR session noted that the jurisdiction of such courts had been increased “as a result of the prevailing security situation.” Lebanese courts have issued at least five death sentences in 2010, HRW said.
Various member states called Lebanon to task over its human-rights record.
The United States “remained concerned that Lebanese women were inequitably represented in government and that refugees lacked basic rights to move freely within the country,” the UN report said. “It noted that some forms of torture were not criminalized.”
The United Kingdom “expressed also concerns about allegations of torture and humanitarian and human rights situation for Palestinian refugees.”
The Lebanese delegation agreed to amend the government’s definition of torture, which “would be brought in line with international standards and sentences for the crime of torture be increased accordingly.”
The human rights records of all United Nations member states are reviewed by the Human Rights Council once every four years.

The Daily Star - Ownership dispute threatens to split Voice of Lebanon radio - November 26, 2010

BEIRUT: The Voice of Lebanon (VOL) radio station is poised to be operated by two rival factions within the Phalange Party, setting the stage for the emergence of two rival radio stations next month.
The radio station, which is popular among the Lebanese public, was established by the Phalange in 1958 and has since reflected the party’s political line.
Now a legal dispute over the ownership of the radio’s name is threatening to divide the VOL into two radio stations: one at its current headquarters in Achrafieh, and another in the coastal town of Dbayeh north of Beirut.
The VOL will be turned into two radio stations starting from the morning of December 1, pending the settlement of a legal dispute between the Phalange Party and journalist Rose Zamel, better known as Wardeh, over the ownership of the radio’s controversial name, An-Nahar newspaper reported Thursday.
It said that each of the Phalange factions, represented by the New Audio-Visual Media Company, and the Modern Media Company, run by the sons of the radio’s former director general Simon Khazen who died earlier this year, is claiming ownership of the radio’s name.
Zamel, who is part of the Modern Media Company, is waging a relentless battle to keep the radio’s name, armed with documents, agreements and licenses, An-Nahar said. It added that Zamel’s company is planning to begin airing from a new building in Dbayeh.
The dispute began when the Phalange Party, headed by former President Amin Gemayel, refused to renew the lease contracts for both the radio’s name and the building, which expire at midnight on November 30. The party gave a notice to the radio’s current administration eight months ago and sought to reach a compromise solution under which the party would take over the radio station.
But Zamel, who is currently serving as director of the radio’s political programs and advertising department, has refused to hand over the radio station to the party. She argued that the late Simon Khazen had owned the station after establishing the Modern Media Company and that the party had nothing to do with the station, according to a neutral informed source close to the VOL.
Meanwhile, the Phalange Party maintains that at the expiration of the lease contracts on November 30, the ownership of the radio’s name and building should move to the party, the source added. –The Daily Star 

The Daily Star - Ownership dispute threatens to split Voice of Lebanon radio - November 26, 2010

BEIRUT: The Voice of Lebanon (VOL) radio station is poised to be operated by two rival factions within the Phalange Party, setting the stage for the emergence of two rival radio stations next month.
The radio station, which is popular among the Lebanese public, was established by the Phalange in 1958 and has since reflected the party’s political line.
Now a legal dispute over the ownership of the radio’s name is threatening to divide the VOL into two radio stations: one at its current headquarters in Achrafieh, and another in the coastal town of Dbayeh north of Beirut.
The VOL will be turned into two radio stations starting from the morning of December 1, pending the settlement of a legal dispute between the Phalange Party and journalist Rose Zamel, better known as Wardeh, over the ownership of the radio’s controversial name, An-Nahar newspaper reported Thursday.
It said that each of the Phalange factions, represented by the New Audio-Visual Media Company, and the Modern Media Company, run by the sons of the radio’s former director general Simon Khazen who died earlier this year, is claiming ownership of the radio’s name.
Zamel, who is part of the Modern Media Company, is waging a relentless battle to keep the radio’s name, armed with documents, agreements and licenses, An-Nahar said. It added that Zamel’s company is planning to begin airing from a new building in Dbayeh.
The dispute began when the Phalange Party, headed by former President Amin Gemayel, refused to renew the lease contracts for both the radio’s name and the building, which expire at midnight on November 30. The party gave a notice to the radio’s current administration eight months ago and sought to reach a compromise solution under which the party would take over the radio station.
But Zamel, who is currently serving as director of the radio’s political programs and advertising department, has refused to hand over the radio station to the party. She argued that the late Simon Khazen had owned the station after establishing the Modern Media Company and that the party had nothing to do with the station, according to a neutral informed source close to the VOL.
Meanwhile, the Phalange Party maintains that at the expiration of the lease contracts on November 30, the ownership of the radio’s name and building should move to the party, the source added. –The Daily Star 

The Daily Star - Hariri confident prevailing tensions will ease Turkish prime minister warns his country will not remain silent if Israel attacks Lebanon or Gaza Strip - November 26, 2010

By Hussein Dakroub
 BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri reassured worried Lebanese Thursday that Lebanon would eventually be able to overcome the current political crisis over an impending indictment into the 2005 assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Meanwhile, visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Turkey would not keep silent if Israel attacks Lebanon or the Gaza Strip.
“We assure you, for our part, that Lebanon will be fine and that the Lebanese of all political affiliations will not abandon their national unity, regardless of the escalating political rhetoric and media campaigns,” Hariri said in a speech to mark the opening of a Turkish-funded hospital for emergency medicine and burns in the southern city of Sidon. “We have chosen to live together and work together. We have chosen to unite against Israeli challenges and to address our issues through dialogue.”
Hariri said that Erdogan’s presence in Lebanon was “a message of reassurance to all the Lebanese that their country will be fine and that the loyal friends like Recep Tayyip Erdogan will not abandon their responsibilities in supporting Lebanon and its stability.”
Erdogan arrived here Wednesday on a two-day visit that culminated with the signing of an agreement establishing a free trade zone between the two countries. In a move designed to enhance bilateral relations, Hariri also announced the creation of the High Level Strategic Cooperation and Coordination Committee.
After talks with President Michel Sleiman, Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri Wednesday, Erdogan called on rival Lebanese factions to maintain national unity in order to ward off the threat of sectarian strife over the indictment that is widely expected to implicate Hizbullah in Rafik Hariri’s killing. The indictment is expected to be issued before the end of the year by the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is probing the assassination.
Erdogan also held talks Thursday with the head of Hizbullah’s Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc, MP Mohammad Raad, as well as Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea and Phalange Party head Amin Gemayel.
Hariri’s remarks come amid a sharp split between the March 8 and 14 camps
over the STL’s indictment, raising fears of sectarian strife, especially if Hizbullah members are implicated in Hariri’s assassination. The split has led to a paralysis of the national unity Cabinet, which has not met for three weeks due to a dispute over the issue of “false witnesses” who allegedly misled the UN probe into Hariri’s killing.
Sleiman has deferred a Cabinet discussion of the issue of “false witnesses” – a major demand of the March 8 coalition – in order to avert a further split among the country’s ministers.
Similarly, a meeting of the National Dialogue Committee to discuss a defense strategy has also apparently been put off indefinitely pending a settlement of the issue of “false witnesses.”
But Hariri stressed in his speech that dialogue among rival factions is the only way to resolve political differences. “We will never give up on our call for reason, and our devotion to national dialogue, under the leadership of President Michel Sleiman, as the only way to resolve disputes and reconcile viewpoints under an Arab umbrella provided by efforts of the leadership in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Syria,” he said.
“I say this because I believe that Lebanese national unity has become a vital component of the strategic partnership which we look forward to achieve with Turkey,” the prime minister added.
Saudi Arabia and Syria, which wield great influence on rival Lebanese factions, are coordinating efforts in a bid to find a compromise solution to the crisis over the STL’s indictment.
Hariri said that Lebanon’s stability is an “integral part” of the region’s stability and has become, over the last three decades, “the general political indicator for regional stability and the focal point for the formation of the economic, developmental and humanitarian climates of communication between states.”
Hariri praised Turkey’s “pivotal role” in regional and Islamic issues, especially in the Arab-Israeli conflict. “This was mostly appreciated by Arab peoples and governments who found in the Turkish people and leadership a great support for the Arab rights, especially the right of the Palestinian people to establish their own independent state, in the face of the Israeli policies and their danger to regional peace” he said.
“The second issue is related to Turkish role in protecting the civilized and human aspect of the religious diversity in the Orient, especially your role in activating the Islamic – Christian dialogue,” he added.
In another speech addressing a conference of the Union of Arab Banks, Hariri said that Turkey has become a regional power with global weight in various fields, supporting the just causes of the Arab and Islamic worlds. “Turkey has always been a loyal supporter of Lebanon during all difficult times,” he said. “Turkey also works to achieve political and security stability in Lebanon, and this was reflected through its participation to the UNIFIL forces” based in southern Lebanon.
Addressing the conference of the Union of Arab Banks held at the Phoenicia Hotel, Erdogan said that Turkey’s only goal in the region is peace, stability, prosperity and security, but warned against an Israeli attack on Lebanon or Gaza.
In a clear reference to Israel, which launched a devastating war on Lebanon in 2006 and a military offensive on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in 2009, Erdogan said: “Will enemies invade Lebanon with modern aircraft and tanks and kill children, women, destroy schools, hospitals, and then ask us to remain silent? Will they use the latest weapons, phosphorous and cluster bombs to invade Gaza and kill children who are playing in the farms and then ask us to be silent?”
Referring to the May 31 Israeli commando raid on a Turkish-flagged flotilla carrying aid and medicine to the Palestinians under Israeli siege in Gaza, Erdogan said: “Will they practice piracy in the Mediterranean Sea, international terrorism and kill nine Turks heading to Gaza, and then ask us to keep silent? We will not remain silent, and we will say that we are with justice.”
“I say that we want justice to prevail in this region and not piracy. We want peace to succeed in the Middle East. We do not want to kill children, and we want well-being and independence in this region,” he added.
In another speech at the opening of the hospital in Sidon, Erdogan expressed Turkey’s solidarity with Lebanon in this difficult time.
“I would like to emphasize the fact that we are one country. We are united and we must preserve this harmony and unity to stop those who want to spread discord,” he said. “Lebanon was and still is an example of coexistence of all colors, a place where all sects and religions have coexisted throughout history. But from time to time some people emerge to harm this harmony, so we must not grant them the opportunity.”
Erdogan said that so far Turkey has opened 55 schools in Lebanon and was working to build 15 more schools. During his two-day visit, Erdogan opened Turkish-financed projects in northern and southern Lebanon. He also inspected Turkish soldiers serving with UNIFIL troops in the southern village of Shaatiyeh.

L'Orient le Jour - Judiciary: Legal proceedings against 8 guardians of Roumieh after the escape of 2 prisoners - November 26, 2010

Le commissaire du gouvernement près le tribunal militaire, le juge Sakr Sakr, a engagé des poursuites contre huit gardiens de la prison de Roumieh, suite à l'opération de fuite de deux prisonniers, le jour de la fête de l'Adha. Parmi ces gardiens qui sont en état d'arrestation, sept, dont deux officiers accusés de négligence et un dernier gardien accusé d'avoir facilité la fuite. Le dossier a été transféré au premier juge militaire.

L'Orient le Jour - March 14 persists and signs : The truth on the assassinations should not be a source of conflict - November 26, 2010

La date de parution de l'acte d'accusation se rapproche et le camp du 14 Mars continue d'afficher une position unique, celle qui appuie toutes les décisions émanant du Tribunal spécial pour le Liban (TSL), non sans prendre en compte les possibles conséquences de cette publication, à l'ombre de la paralysie du Conseil des ministres et du climat de tension qui prévaut dans le pays.
Pour Boutros Harb, le ministre du Travail, il est « désolant » de voir que le TSL, supposé faire la lumière sur l'assassinat de grandes figures libanaises, soit « galvaudé » au point de devenir un sujet politique dont la « petitesse » est en totale contradiction avec le concept de la justice.

Il a à ce propos catégoriquement rejeté « la logique de l'intimidation », considérant que les Libanais n'avaient pas à être punis « par l'inculpation de quiconque » et que la vérité bénéficiera « à tous ».
Il est vrai que l'initiative syro-saoudienne semble vouloir calmer le jeu, il n'en reste pas moins que pour Boutros Harb, cette initiative « ne saurait se réaliser pleinement » sans une implication libanaise. Le ministre a rappelé à cet effet que le pays jouit de « d'un cadre juridique » qui régit les relations entre les citoyens, se désolant du fait que la situation actuelle se résume à « une série de conditions et de contre- conditions » qui font obstacle à l'action de la justice.
Le député Ammar Houry, du Bloc du Futur, a lui aussi évoqué l'initiative syro-saoudienne, la qualifiant de « fondamentale et d'irremplaçable », saluant également les efforts du Qatar et de la Turquie qui visent à renforcer le projet arabe.
À l'instar du ministre du Travail, M. Houry a invité les responsables libanais à prendre une part active dans la résolution de la crise, les appelant à prendre leurs responsabilités et à « se retrouver à Baabda » autour de la table de dialogue. 
Il a en outre déclaré que la paralysie du Conseil des ministres lèse les citoyens « en premier lieu » et constitue par ailleurs « un manquement » à l'accord de Doha ainsi qu'aux engagements pris par le gouvernement.
Son collègue Ziad Kadri s'est, quant à lui, étonné que l'acte d'accusation puisse être « source de conflit », voyant en la justice et la vérité des synonymes de paix et de tranquillité. 
Il a de plus rappelé que le TSL n'a pas été « imposé » aux Libanais mais qu'il a été adopté « à l'unanimité » autour de la table de dialogue depuis 2006, accusant le camp adverse d'être « revenu sur ses engagements ».
Pour le député Robert Ghanem, l'acte d'accusation ne peut provoquer de remous, parce que la stabilité et la justice « ne sont pas antithétiques ».

Samy Gemayel
Pour le coordinateur du comité central des Kataëb, Samy Gemayel, le compromis sur le sang des martyrs serait « indigne », assurant que son parti tient absolument à la justice et reste ferme sur ses positions.
Il a également souligné qu'il est « impossible » de demander à la jeunesse libanaise de se sacrifier pour son pays alors même que ceux qui les ont précédés sont tombés « sans bénéficier d'aucune forme de justice ». 
Il s'est enfin déclaré prêt, au besoin, à initier « une action pacifique » dans la rue, déclarant à qui voulait l'entendre qu' « aucun parti » allié, à l'instar des Kataëb, n'accepterait de compromis.
Pour M. Okab Sakr, du bloc Liban d'abord, qui rencontrait le secrétaire général des Forces du 14 Mars, Farès Souhaid, le pays traverse « une période délicate » que tente d'apaiser « l'initiative syro-saoudienne », confortée par d'autres efforts régionaux.
Le député Sakr a lui aussi appelé les Libanais à « s'impliquer dans le processus de sortie de crise », et il a proposé la création de commissions parlementaires pour résoudre des problèmes endémiques qui divisent les Libanais, évoquant l'accueil favorable qu'a reçu cette proposition de la part de Michel Aoun.
Il a enfin préconisé de régler tous les problèmes dont souffre le Liban « devant le Parlement », dans la transparence, « une fois pour toutes ». 

L'Orient le Jour - Could Erdogan succeed where others failed ? - November 26, 2010

Un nouveau bain de foule a été offert hier au Premier ministre turc Recep Tayyip Erdogan, à Saïda cette fois. Les observateurs ne s'y sont pas trompés, qui ont vu dans la visite à Saïda et, la veille, au Akkar, le pendant sunnite de la visite triomphale réservée par la communauté chiite au président iranien Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Il y a certainement de ça, quoi qu'en dise l'intéressé lui-même, et Saad Hariri n'a pas manqué d'exploiter au profit de sa popularité, et surtout de sa position, les deux journées d'Erdogan.

Pourtant, il ne fait pas de doute que cette visite s'inscrit dans le cadre des efforts régionaux destinés à prévenir une explosion de violence, ou une discorde, après la publication par le TSL de l'acte d'accusation dans l'affaire de l'assassinat de Rafic Hariri (2005).
Le Watan syrien s'est mis de la partie, hier, en confirmant que la publication de ce document, compromettant pour certains éléments du Hezbollah, est pour la mi-décembre. L'officieux syrien, citant des sources bien informées, affirme que la visite d'Erdogan est « certainement liée aux efforts en cours pour préserver la stabilité du Liban ».
Du reste, le Premier ministre turc lui-même ne s'en cache pas et a affirmé avoir pris contact avec le président syrien, avant de venir au Liban.
Pour sa part, rapportant la teneur de la visite d'Erdogan à Aïn el-Tineh, mercredi, M. Ali Hamdane, conseiller du président de la Chambre, Nabih Berry, a situé cette visite dans le même cadre que celles que le roi Abdallah et le président Bachar el-Assad ont effectuées, et reflètent « un souci régional » pour la stabilité du Liban.
Dans quelle mesure ces efforts sont certains d'aboutir, il est trop tôt pour le dire. Les observateurs comptent notamment sur les échéances successives prévues, pour lever les équivoques, qui subsistent. Ils comptent, dans l'immédiat, sur la prochaine visite de M. Hariri en Iran (samedi et dimanche) et sur les efforts du Qatar, où se trouvait hier Sleimane Frangié, et dont le Premier ministre a visité il y a quelques jours le Liban.
Pourtant, comme dit le proverbe, il ne faut pas se fier à l'eau qui dort. En l'absence d'un progrès, ou d'une formule de compromis au sujet du TSL et de l'affaire dite des faux témoins, la tension va certainement remonter, estiment beaucoup d'observateurs, parmi lesquels figure l'ancien député Moustapha Allouche, pour lequel « sauf miracle », un affrontement militaire au Liban, « et peut-être aussi régional », est inévitable, pour régler ce qu'il considère être comme le problème fondamental : les armes du Hezbollah.
Pour sortir de l'immobilisme, le chef de l'État devrait se réunir, la semaine prochaine, avec le président de la Chambre et le Premier ministre, « pour aviser ».
Si la classe politique libanaise est en général moins alarmiste qu'un Moustapha Allouche, c'est qu'elle sait qu'un putsch du Hezbollah est moins aisé - politiquement - qu'il n'y paraît, même si ce parti a les moyens militaires de prendre le contrôle de certaines régions.
D'une part, en effet, la sécurité au Liban est placée sous le double parrainage de la Syrie et de l'Arabie saoudite, et aucun bouleversement du statu quo établi par cette alliance, qui dépasse le cadre libanais et comprend, en particulier, l'Irak, n'est envisageable à l'heure actuelle.
D'autre part, il semble qu'un coup de force du Hezbollah conduirait immanquablement à un affrontement avec l'armée, ce qui ruinerait définitivement sa doctrine militaire, qui repose sur une collaboration étroite avec cette institution. Du reste, le commandement militaire a publié un communiqué affirmant qu'il s'opposera à toute sédition interne, estimant que son coût sera moins élevé que celui de la discorde.
Il s'agit là, en tout cas, d'un pari sur lequel mise le chef de l'État libanais, Michel Sleiman, qui s'est réuni, dernièrement à Damas, avec le président Bachar el-Assad, et qui reçoit ces jours-ci à Beyrouth le fils du roi Abdallah, le prince Abdel Aziz ben Abdallah, habitué aussi du palais présidentiel syrien.
Reste la possibilité de ce que l'opposition considère comme des mouvements de masse « pacifiques » qui entraîneraient la paralysie du centre et de certaines administrations névralgiques, et qu'elle pourrait utiliser à nouveau pour faire pression sur le gouvernement.

L'Orient le Jour - Erdogan in Lebanon Liban, Hariri in Iran : a ray of hope ? - November 26, 2010

Est-ce que le Premier ministre turc réussira là où tous les autres ont (pour l'instant) échoué à résoudre la crise due à l'acte d'accusation ? Est-ce que la visite qui commence aujourd'hui de Saad Hariri en Iran réussira à éloigner quelques (mauvais) 
spectres ? Nul n'a de réponses, mais un petit, tout petit rai d'espoir est là, à moins d'un mois des fêtes

L'Orient le Jour - Kandil : The STL, « Gestapo of the 21st century » - November 26, 2010

L'ancien député Nasser Kandil a qualifié hier le Tribunal spécial pour le Liban de « Gestapo du XXIe siècle », affirmant que le récent amendement de la procédure de preuves au sein du TSL permettra à l'accusation de remplacer les preuves par « les rapports de services de renseignements ».

« La communauté politique libanaise et arabe vit dans un état de quasi-faillite face à l'instrument le plus dangereux de l'hégémonie américaine sur les organisations internationales », a déclaré M. Kandil lors d'une conférence de presse. « La justice internationale joue un rôle de compensation après les échecs des forces militaires américaines dans leurs campagnes impérialistes, alors que chez nous, le débat porte sur le sexe des anges de Bellemare », a-t-il ajouté.

« Des amendements similaires à ceux qui ont récemment été introduits au tribunal de Bellemare-Cassese avaient été rejetés par la Cour suprême américaine lorsqu'il s'agissait d'y soumettre les prisonniers de Guantanamo (accusés de terrorisme). Chez nous, personne, ni le barreau ni les instances judiciaires, n'a pris la peine de se prononcer sur le fait de savoir si la nouvelle procédure de preuves du TSL a désormais un rapport quelconque avec la justice », a-t-il déploré.

Quelle est donc la fonction de la commission parlementaire de l'Administration et de la Justice, de l'ordre des avocats et du Conseil supérieur de la magistrature « si ce n'est d'avoir le dernier mot au sujet de cette procédure et de juger s'il est sain de continuer à céder les prérogatives judiciaires nationales en faveur d'un tribunal devenu la Gestapo du XXIe siècle et dans le cadre duquel ce ne sont plus les preuves et les témoins qui ont de la valeur, mais plutôt les rapports de SR », a-t-il dit.
Évoquant le documentaire de la télévision publique canadienne CBC, M. Kandil a assuré qu'il s'agit d'une « copie conforme du texte préparé par Bellemare ». Selon lui, la partie consacrée au chef des SR des FSI, le colonel Wissam el-Hassan, est « un message adressé au Premier ministre Saad Hariri pour qu'il continue à couvrir le TSL, faute de quoi un certain nombre de ses collaborateurs pourraient être impliqués dans l'assassinat de son père et peut-être lui-même ». Pour M. Kandil, il est pour cela possible de se fonder sur un précédent dans lequel un roi arabe a, selon certaines informations, fait assassiner son père pour prendre le pouvoir.
« Dans ce jeu, a poursuivi l'ancien député, Daniel Bellemare ne fait que répéter ce que Detlev Mehlis avait fait avec le général Jamil Sayyed : " Livrez-moi la tête de la Syrie ou alors je vous accuse à vous personnellement d'être impliqué." À présent, l'équation est devenue : " Je veux la tête du Hezbollah ou alors vous êtes tous des accusés. " Cela explique-t-il la peur de M. Hariri de sortir du giron du TSL ? »

L'Orient le Jour - Hezbollah would have infiltrated the STL investigation commission, reveals « al-Raï » - November 26, 2010

Dans un article publié par le journal koweïtien al-Raï, il est dit que des responsables américains ayant suivi de près l'enquête dans l'assassinat du président Rafic Hariri auraient qualifié le documentaire canadien sur CBS « d'extrêmement précis ».
Les sources américaines racontent leur expérience avec les enquêteurs internationaux, déclarant que le procureur général Daniel Bellemare était le premier à visiter Washington pour s'y réunir avec des membres des services de renseignements.
Lorsque M. Bellemare aurait demandé des informations à la CIA, on lui aurait répondu que ces dernières ne pourraient être « offertes », mais qu'elles devraient s'inscrire dans un processus d'« échange » d'informations.
Un responsable américain dévoile ainsi qu'à l'issue de la comparaison d'observations, les deux parties étaient arrivées aux conclusions auxquelles était déjà parvenu le colonel assassiné Wissam Eid, qui avait élucidé les dessous de l'exécution de l'attentat, sans résoudre l'énigme de la décision de le perpétrer.
Au cours des mois qui ont suivi cette visite, le procureur canadien aurait poursuivi son enquête de la même manière auprès des services de renseignements occidentaux et régionaux, hormis les services israéliens et syriens, arrivant à la conclusion que les résultats en sa possession étaient « précis » et corroboraient ceux que les services occidentaux possédaient, toujours selon le responsable américain.
Ce dernier fait également remarquer que les Américains avaient été les premiers à lancer l'hypothèse de l'éventuelle implication du Hezbollah dans l'assassinat de Rafic Hariri, et ce depuis que l'ambassadeur Jeffrey Feltman a été en poste au Liban.
Le responsable américain ajoute aussi que M. Bellemare détiendrait deux faisceaux de preuves pour la plupart circonstancielles, soulignant que dans le cas d'un attentat comme celui de Rafic Hariri, il était quasiment impossible de trouver davantage de preuves tangibles, ou encore, plus de témoins.
Les preuves concernent d'abord la reconstitution de la situation politique à la veille de l'attentat ; elles comprennent des témoignages relatifs à des menaces proférées à l'encontre de Rafic Hariri, en public et en privé, de la part de responsables syriens et d'autres du Hezbollah. La deuxième catégorie de preuves inclut un inventaire détaillé d'appels téléphoniques, accompagnés d'une liste de noms.
Le responsable américain a estimé que les Syriens et le Hezbollah ont sciemment laissé filtrer des informations via le journaliste du quotidien Deir Spiegel, Eric Volath, introduit à la présidence syrienne par un ancien ministre libanais.
Il a aussi révélé que le Hezbollah et ses alliés avaient réussi à infiltrer la commission d'enquête internationale, sans pour autant pouvoir connaître les intentions de Bellemare, jusqu'au moment où cette dernière a commencé son enquête auprès des membres du Hezbollah.
Là, à travers les interrogatoires, le parti de Dieu a compris ce que le procureur savait, et c'est ce qui l'a poussé à déclarer la guerre au TSL. 

November 25, 2010

The Daily Star - Bellemare: Media reports could endanger lives Hariri rejects CBC documentary’s claims that ISF officer may have had role in his father’s assassination - November 25, 2010

By Patrick Galey BEIRUT: The prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) warned Tuesday that media reports relating to his investigation could endanger lives, as Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that leaked information did not serve the pursuit of justice.
STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare slammed a documentary by Canadian broadcaster CBC – which implicated Hizbullah in the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri – and vowed the United Nations-backed court would continue unmolested.
“The most serious impact of the CBC reports is that their broadcast may put people’s lives in jeopardy,” he said. “It will be for the judges, and the judges alone, to assess the evidence and reach conclusions based on the facts as established at trial.”
Hariri rebuffed claims made by CBC investigative reporter Neil MacDonald that Internal Security Forces intelligence chief Wissam al-Hassan – a longtime confidante of the Hariri family – may have had a role in his father’s killing.
“We usually don’t officially comment on probe-related material that is not officially issued by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, but I personally think that information leakage doesn’t serve justice,” the prime minister told reporters.
When asked about the possible culpability of Hassan, who was responsible for Rafik Hariri’s safety yet was absent from the former statesman’s motorcade as it was hit by a massive car bomb on February 14, 2005, Hariri said: “Hassan had and will always have our full trust.”
Hizbullah refused to be drawn on the documentary’s findings.
“In general, these kinds of leaks only show how much we were right when we said that [the STL] is not credible,” a party source told The Daily Star.
CBC’s investigation – entitled “Getting Away with Murder” and based on the anonymous statements from “a half dozen” former STL investigators – claimed to have uncovered systemic flaws in the UN-backed court’s operations. In addition, it showed cellphone records, deciphered and correlated by Wissam Eid, an ISF officer who trawled raw call data and created color-coded networks of individuals thought to have been involved in Hariri’s killing. The information unearthed by Eid, who was assassinated in early 2008, showed that Hizbullah members had been pursuing the former premier and had been in the blast vicinity on the day of his death, CBC reported.
A statement from Bellemare’s office said the Canadian judge was “extremely disappointed” with CBC’s report.
“The office of the prosecutor’s decision not to comment on matters relating to the investigation will not change. This decision is based on considerations of utmost concern for the integrity of the investigation and the safety of victims, witnesses, suspects and staff. Preserving confidentiality is essential for the success of the investigation,” the statement added.
An STL spokesperson declined to comment on CBC’s report. “This is [a matter] for the office of the prosecutor. We cannot comment on these things because they are to do with the investigation,” the spokesperson told The Daily Star.
But the UN voiced its concern over continued information leaks which result in media reports dealing with investigative and potentially sensitive details.
“It is a matter of concern that the leaks could have an effect on the substance of the work by the prosecutors and the tribunal itself,” UN Spokesperson Farhan Haq said late Monday. “Certainly leaks are matters of concern. We want to be able to ensure that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon can go about its work without hindrance or interference.” Haq also called on CBC to hand over information which may be of interest to Bellemare.
The program cast the spotlight on Hassan, who avoided Hariri’s bombing via what it called a flimsy alibi. CBC’s website displayed an investigation document referring to Hassan as “a possible suspect in the Hariri killing,” adding that he was a “key interlocutor for the [UN International Independent Investigation] Commission. He is in a unique position to influence our investigation.”
Free Patriotic Movement Leader Michel Aoun, in a Tuesday press conference, called on the STL to examine revelations contained within CBC’s program. “International investigations should be expanded to uncover Hassan’s role,” Aoun said. He added that Hassan “also has a role in the issue of ‘false witnesses.’”
Last week, the BBC shelved a series of films investigating the death of billionaire Hariri. Although the organization claimed it needed additional time to ensure the programs complied with its editorial guidelines, doubts have been raised over the timing of the decision; an Al-Akhbar report said the BBC would also implicate Hizbullah in the bombing.
The party has warned of consequences should anticipated STL indictments against its members materialize.
Bellemare remained confident that his probe would be allowed to run its course. “Whatever the challenges faced in this investigation, which has been conducted in extremely difficult circumstances, the staff of the office of the prosecutor remain committed to bringing it to a successful conclusion,” he said.

The Daily Star - Jumblatt urges Cabinet to reject Tribunal - November 25, 2010

By Wassim Mroueh and Agence France Presse (AFP)
BEIRUT: MP Walid Jumblatt, said Wednesday the Cabinet should condemn a UN-backed probe into the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and reject its impending indictment.

“It would be appropriate at this time for the Cabinet to meet and unanimously denounce the tribunal and its [upcoming] verdict],” he told AFP.
“This tribunal is aimed at destabilizing Lebanon rather than rendering justice,” added Jumblatt, who heads the Progressive Socialist Party.
“It is clear that this probe is being used for political purposes,” he said. “It is clear that the investigators are leaking information and are working for countries that have accounts to settle.”
The lawmaker’s remarks come two days after the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) broadcast a documentary that implicated Hizbullah in the assassination of Hariri.
In the documentary, CBC investigative reporter Neil Macdonald claimed that Internal Security Forces Intelligence chief Wissam al-Hassan – a longtime confidante of the Hariri family – may have had a role in Hariri’s killing.
Hizbullah has stressed since July that the impending indictment of the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) could target members from the party, while strongly denying any involvement in the assassination.
The Hizbullah-led March 8 coalition slammed the STL as an “Israeli project” targeting the resistance, and said the key to uncovering the truth behind the crime lay in referring the issue of “false witnesses” – who gave testimonies to implicate Syria – to the Judicial Council, the highest judicial authority in Lebanon.
But rival March 14 parties believe the STL is the only means to punish criminals, and consider that the issue of “false witnesses” should be handled by regular judiciary after the STL hands down its indictment.
The standoff over the matter has paralyzed Cabinet and disrupted the National Dialogue committee’s meetings.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea told AFP that Saudi-Syrian talks trying to reach a compromise acceptable to both sides “have not progressed for two weeks and everything is almost over because of differing stances.”
“The Saudi proposal calls for getting ready to contain the … indictment and its consequences while the Syrians insist on preventing or delaying its issuance,” he said.
The LF leader added that he would ask this week President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Saad Hariri to call for a Cabinet session. “If Hizbullah’s group wants to be absent, then let them bear responsibility for paralyzing the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hizbullah’s Loyalty to Resistance bloc called on the Cabinet to reach a final decision on the issue of “false witnesses.”
“The Lebanese Cabinet is invited to reach a final decision on the issue of false witnesses that harmed Lebanon … and justice along with the special brotherly ties with Syria,” said a statement issued by the bloc.
“The bloc sees no justification for disrupting the Cabinet and reiterates its position that the necessary path leading to truth [in Hariri’s murder] lies in probing false witnesses and their sponsors,” added the statement.
The bloc urged the Cabinet to behave responsibly when dealing with the “claimed Israeli withdrawal from the Lebanese part of Ghajar.”
Earlier in November, the Israeli Cabinet decided “in principle” to pull out its troops from the Lebanese part of Ghajar, after which troop of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) are set to take control of the territory.
“The Lebanese will not be deceived by a masked Israeli occupation of the Lebanese sector of Ghajar, and they will remain determined to liberate all their occupied land,” said the statement.
However, Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi said the situation in Lebanon was “progressing.”
“There are Iranian-Saudi, Iranian-Syrian and Iranian-Turkish contacts [to ease tensions in Lebanon],” he told reporters after holding talks with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri at the latter’s residence in Ain al-Tineh.
Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani said Syria and Saudi Arabia were following up on the Lebanese matter. “We are waiting, we want Lebanon to enjoy security away from sectarian tension,” he told reporters after receiving Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Qatar.
March 8 Christian parties’ sources told The Daily Star that the coalition ministers would withdraw from the Cabinet if the indictment implicating Hizbullah in the crime was issued before Saudi-Syrian talks bear fruit.
According to the sources, March 8 parties could form a new cabinet, headed by a pro-March 8 Sunni premier that could ask the Parliament to reconsider the agreement between Lebanon and the STL due to its unconstitutionality and could ask the United Nations to amend the agreement in line with the Lebanese laws and Constitution.
However, other political sources ruled out any resignations from the government, saying that the Cabinet was a Syrian-Saudi red line. – WithAFP

The Daily Star - CBC report tarnishes Hizbullah image further Analysts say group cannot tolerate to be accused since ‘it would be delegitimized’ locally and abroad - November 25, 2010

By Michael Bluhm BEIRUT: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) report alleging Hizbullah’s involvement in former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination has further tarnished the party’s reputation, even thought the documentary did not budge the polarized stances paralyzing the political scene, a number of analysts told The Daily Star Wednesday.
The report spurred immediate reactions from Hizbullah and its allies in the March 8 political coalition; their response did not deviate from their established strategy of attacking the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), said retired General Elias Hanna, who teaches political science at various universities. CBC said it had acquired its information implicating Hizbullah from a number of former tribunal investigators. Political tensions have risen in Lebanon as the court prepares to file its indictment in the Hariri case, and political leaders have said they expect the court to accuse Hizbullah members.
Telecommunications Minister Charbel Nahhas of the March 8 camp’s Free Patriotic Movement held a news conference Tuesday, presenting evidence which he said showed that Lebanon’s telecommunications sector had been under Israeli control at the time of Hariri’s February 2005 killing.
March 8 leaders are trying to “hollow out” the looming tribunal indictment by rejecting any telecommunications data used to connect Hizbullah cadres to Hariri’s assassination, Hanna said. Hizbullah and March 8 tactics to undermine the court also include a call to boycott the STL from Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, as well as moves to block the payment of Lebanon’s 49-percent share of STL funding, Hanna said. Hizbullah “cannot tolerate to be accused,” he added. “Locally, it will be delegitimized, [and] regionally and internationally.”
The Hizbullah response to the CBC documentary also hinted that the group considers the accusation of some of its members as a fait accompli, said Habib Malik, who teaches history at the Lebanese American University and is the son of Charles Malik, one of the co-founders of modern Lebanon and co-author of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Hizbullah knows it cannot respond to any potential indictment by using its weapons either in Lebanon or against Israel, so the group is angling to minimize the possible damage, Malik added. “They’re getting ready, in a sense, to cut their losses.”
While adding to the sense of inevitability surrounding the indictment of Hizbullah members, the CBC report also serves to further chip away at Hizbullah’s shaken reputation of in the Middle East, said Hilal Khashan, who teaches political studies at the American University of Beirut. Since its military successes against Israel in the summer 2006 war, Hizbullah has seen its image sullied by the sit-in that emptied Beirut’s Downtown from December 2006 and armed clashes in western Beirut in May 2008, Khashan added. Hizbullah gunmen seized swathes of western Beirut after the former Cabinet took steps that Hizbullah believed encroached on its prerogatives.
“Hassan Nasrallah has resigned himself to the issuance of the indictment,” he said. “Hizbullah’s position in the Arab-Islamic world reached its peak right after the summer 2006 war. Since then its image in the Arab-Islamic world has been declining. Their invasion of West Beirut in 2008 did a lot of damage to Hizbullah.
“Hizbullah is seen more as an instrument in Iran’s hands rather than as an agent of anti-Israel liberation.”
In spite of the turmoil accompanying the wait for the indictment, the CBC documentary did not increase the chances for violence over the expected charges, Malik said. Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of the slain former premier, moved quickly Tuesday to defuse any heated reactions to the CBC report, saying he did not believe any leaks served the cause of justice and that he would wait for the official indictment. In his response, Hariri did not deviate from his approach of taking any steps necessary to avoid confrontation over the tribunal, Khashan said; the prime minister had previously apologized for rushing to blame Syria in the killing and said only rogue elements of Hizbullah might have been involved in his father’s assassination.
Hariri and his partners in the March 14 faction have long been deadlocked with March 8 representatives in the Cabinet, and the CBC documentary might only make it harder for the wrangling ministers to reach consensus on any issue, said Raghid al-Solh, political analyst and adviser to the Issam Fares Center, a non-partisan think tank.
Hanna said that “political paralysis all over Lebanon for a certain period of time” will likely reign until the indictment is revealed.
Khashan said the possible leaks of information to CBC appear part of a plan to intermittently let out the results of the investigation, in order to preempt any shock in Lebanon when the charges are announced. A May 2009 article in the German magazine Der Spiegel first said investigators believed Hizbullah participated in Rafik Hariri’s assassination, while Saad Hariri told Nasrallah early this summer that the indictment would name Hizbullah members, Khashan added.
“This is allowing the Lebanese to brace themselves for the indictment,” Khashan added. “What we are seeing right now [in CBC] is just preparation for Lebanese politicians and the public.”
Indeed, CBC’s investigation will only likely reinforce opinions that have become hardened in the country’s various communities, he said. Backers of the March 14 camp “would see the evidence as compelling; if you are a Hizbullah supporter, you would talk about conspiracy theories,” he added. “If you talk to level-headed Lebanese … they will still place the tribunal in high esteem.”
“New information in Lebanon does seem to alter people’s perception of the situation,” Khashan said.
Hanna, meanwhile, said that the CBC report, in hewing to the standard line of speculation about the investigation’s direction, can also serve as encouragement for Hariri and his allies in resisting Hizbullah attempts to stymie the court, while yet again blackening Hizbullah’s name before the indictment comes out. Whether accurate or not, the appearance of the CBC story stemming from a leak in the tribunal could also harm the reputation of the court, he added. Some might accuse the STL of selectively leaking information for political purposes, while at the very least such a significant leak would do little to burnish the tribunal’s credibility, Hanna added.
In the end, the CBC report only serves to swathe the court in more speculation and conspiracy theories, which only sabotage the causes that the tribunal was founded to pursue: fostering accountability and ending impunity for political violence, Malik said.
“It’s really disappointing and sad that international law should have to undergo this kind of abuse,” he said. “The greatest loser in this whole drama since the tribunal was created is international law.”

The Daily Star - Omar Bakri released on LL5 million bail - November 25, 2010

By Hussein Dakroub
 BEIRUT: A military court released militant Islamic cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri for a LL5 million bail Wednesday, ten days after his arrest on terrorism charges, said a judicial source. 
The release came after the court began Wednesday a retrial of Bakri on charges of belonging, along with other suspects, to an armed organization plotting to attack people, undermine state authority, incite violence, possess arms and shelter wanted people with the aim of establishing an Islamic state in Lebanon starting from the northern city of Tripoli. 
Hizbullah MP Nawar al-Sahly, Bakri’s lawyer, said that some witnesses’ testimonies indicated that the cleric has nothing to do with the charges leveled against him. Sahly said that he was defending Bakri on orders from Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. 
During the retrial attended by Sahly, Bakri categorically denied charges of belonging to Al-Qaeda, Fatah al-Islam group or any other fundamentalist or Salafi organization, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Bakri denied reports claiming that he was a spiritual guide of a fundamentalist group. 
Bakri also denied charges that he trained people on the use of arms, saying he does not know how to use arms. He denied he was involved in any security or political activity in Lebanon, saying that his activity was confined to teaching the rules of Islamic jurisprudence in English through the internet. 
Likewise, Bakri dismissed charges of a plan to establish an Islamic state in northern Lebanon, saying that he heard about such a plan in the news. 
Asked why his name was linked to such a plan, Bakri told the court, “I think this happened because I am opposed to the American and British systems. It was aimed at silencing my voice which opposed their [US-British] policies in the region and Muslim countries.” 
Bakri said that his previous statements on militant groups were made “under pressure and coercion.” 
The release request was presented by Sahly to the court headed by General Nizar Khalil. After hearing testimony from witnesses Omar Hadeba and Nabil Rahim, both of them convicted of the same charges, the court adjourned until December 7. 
Bakri was arrested on November 14, three days after a court sentenced him and 21 other people to life in prison for carrying out “terrorist acts.” He was arrested outside his home in Tripoli following a violent standoff with security forces. He has been referred to investigating magistrate Saqr Saqr to begin the process of a retrial. The decision to re-try Bakri was taken after his arrest rendered the trial in absentia void. 
Bakri was found guilty along with 53 individuals of Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian and Saudi nationalities of terrorism charges. Of those convicted, 22 were sentenced in absentia, including Bakri, who claimed ignorance of the trial and challenged security forces to arrest him in an interview with The Daily Star. 
The controversial cleric, who has joint Lebanese-Syrian nationality, spent 20 years preaching in Britain following involvement with Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and Hizb ut-Tahrir in Lebanon. He shot to notoriety following the September 11 attacks in the United States, praising the perpetrators as the “magnificent 19.” He returned to Tripoli after being barred by the UK government of traveling to London. 
In court Wednesday, Bakri denied he was deported from Britain. “I moved to Lebanon at my own will because of the harassment exercised by British authorities on Islamists,” he said. 
Bakri has two wives – one British and one Lebanese – and is awaiting the birth of his eighth child.