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 12, 2011

The Daily Star - Cassese calls on 4 STL suspects to surrender or get lawyers - August 12, 2011

By Patrick Galey

BEIRUT: The head of the U.N.-backed court probing the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri appealed Thursday to the four individuals accused of the crime to turn themselves in to the tribunal.
Special Tribunal for Lebanon President Antonio Cassese, in an open letter to suspects, advised the men to seek legal counsel and repeated his determination that the court would bring Hariri’s killers to justice.
“A major safeguard of a fair and just trial is the active participation of the accused,” Cassese said. “I therefore urge all the indictees to come before the Tribunal.
“If you believe this Tribunal is illegal or illegitimate, argue this point through legal counsel chosen by you – you will thus have your voice heard on this issue. Use your counsel to make your case and zealously protect your rights,” the court president added.
Lebanon submitted a report Tuesday to the court, which said authorities had been unable to arrest four individuals with known links to Hezbollah named in the STL’s first indictment. Cassese said he was studying the document and would decide on what course of action to take.
The court went public with the identities of the four – Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra – earlier this month in a bid to expedite their arrests.
A court source said that Cassese was likely to issue a public advertisement, which would be distributed throughout areas in which it is believed suspects are living.
“What will likely happen is the indictment in full or in part will be given to courthouse, police authorities, towns in which it is believed they are in, and it will be nailed to their doors,” the source told The Daily Star. “But this is obviously not something we are going to do ourselves; we trust the Lebanese authorities to do this.”
Although the court has said it will seek to indict individuals, not political parties, Hezbollah and some of its allies have denounced the court. Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has called the STL “an Israeli project” and vowed that the four accused would not be apprehended “even in 300 years.”
Cassese hit back at allegations that his court was politicized.
“Any claim that the Tribunal is under the influence of some countries is simply preposterous,” he said. “We are acting only in the interest of Lebanon; our only motivation is the pursuit of justice. Our exclusive aim is to find the truth about the assassination of [Hariri] and other possibly related crimes, while upholding the highest international standards of criminal law.”
He also vowed that the court would continue in its mandated task of bringing the assassins to justice.
“Nothing, I repeat, nothing will deflect or prevent the Tribunal from fulfilling its mission,” he said. The lofty ideals on which the Tribunal is grounded … cannot be set aside by a stroke of the pen, by mere rhetoric or even by violence.”
Although the timing of trial proceedings commencing is open-ended, Cassese is known to be keen on moving forward with the judicial process. After a potential public advertisement, which has a 30-day time limit, Cassese has the option of starting in absentia trials should the accused continue to elude authorities.
Cassese announced that there would be funding available to provide suspects with legal representation and that the men would not even be required to appear in court, should they be arrested.
“The march to justice is inexorable, and one way or another we will end up with a trial,” he said. “I therefore strongly appeal to the accused to take advantage of the broad legal possibilities offered by our Rules of Procedure and Evidence, thereby contributing to the establishment of truth.”

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