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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May 29, 2014

The Daily Star - Al-Akhbar editor walks out of STL hearing, May 29, 2014

Kareem Shaheen

Al-Akhbar editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin walked out of a contempt hearing at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon after accusing the court of “oppression.”

The journalist left the controversial hearing after delivering a speech denouncing the STL as a political tool whose backers fuel war and strife in Lebanon.

“There appears to be no reason for my attendance,” Amin told Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri, adding that the Italian judge had imposed “oppressive measures” by interrupting his speech.

Amin said he would maintain “complete silence” throughout the proceedings and rejects any court-appointed defense lawyers, before removing his headphones and walking out of the tribunal’s offices in Monte Verde.

Earlier, Amin, wearing headphones and speaking to contempt judge, said he was appearing without a defense lawyer. He is representing himself and Al-Akhbar’s parent company.

The journalist is charged with contempt and obstruction of justice over news reports that included the names of alleged court witnesses. The U.N.-backed court argues that such actions undermine confidence in its work.

Lettieri read out the charges directed against Amin, but said the accusations were not motivated by the newspaper’s criticism of the tribunal.

The editor of the pro-Hezbollah daily was initially supposed to appear before the court in mid-May, but asked for a postponement to appoint a defense lawyer.

In a letter earlier this week, Amin outlined to the court a raft of concerns over his prosecution, including fears for his personal safety and questions over the STL’s right to prosecute journalists.

The case has sparked a protest campaign in Lebanon, with opponents arguing that the STL is stifling freedom of the press while the court maintains that it must act to protect witnesses.

The STL is tasked with prosecuting those responsible for the Feb. 14, 2005, bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others, and plunged Lebanon into political turmoil.

The U.N.-backed court has indicted five members of Hezbollah in connection with the attack. It will resume their trial in absentia in The Hague next month.

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