What Hezbollah can do is historically breathtaking But do they have the political will to do it? Will they make good on their pledges to grant Palestinian refugees in Lebanon the most elementary civil right to work and to own a home and thus be true to their religion, morality and politics? I think they do but the road will be tough and it will test them. If they succeed, the era of Resistance in the Middle East will have significantly matured.
Q: Before we end, could you answer a couple of questions about the rather confusing status of the so-called Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL)? What is the status of the Rafiq Hariri Assassination case with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL)?
FL: As you may recall the Prosecutor of the STL, Canadian jurist Daniel Bellemare has handed down a first batch of indictments to trial judge Daniel Fransen. Fransen is now reviewing Bellemare's indictment. Fransen has to be satisfied that this is a prima facie, meaning that on the face of it there is enough substantial evidence that makes it likely that the Trial Chamber would be satisfied that the burden of proof has been met. The material presented by Prosecutor Bellemare to the pre-trial judge is not the ultimate test. It is only a pre-trial test to see if a trial is possible based on what the Prosecutor has submitted.
Pre-trial Judge Fransen raised certain questions of law with the Appeals Chamber and asked for their legal opinion. Their answers included decisions on the questions of law raised and their work amounted to 153 pages of fairly technical material. Presumably it will take Judge Fransen more time to digest it. There is no way to be sure but I would guess we might expect Fransen's decision sometime in June.
Q: Can the new government of Lebanon stop the STL from continuing its proceedings? After all that's why the former government collapsed.
FL: Not in my opinion. The STL was created by the UN Security Council. As the International Court of Justice has decided years ago, UNSC actions are the highest law in the international community and what the UN Security Council decides is binding on all members of the UN and I would agrue on every country that is not a UN member state.
That is why jurists by and large are of the view that what the UNSC did with Resolution 1973 regarding the Libyan "no fly zone" is legal. This does not mean it's necessarily legitimate. But for the international community it is legal because the UNSC decided it.
In addition, Lebanon signed an initial agreement with the United Nations back in 2007 but if failed to complete the process. Nothing happened in Lebanon after it was signed. It was not ratified by the parliament, The UN waited and waited until they decided not to wait any longer. The UNSC declared that it was going to proceed with the establishment of the tribunal based on the signed agreement. I believe the UN Security Council has the legal power to do so.
However, it will give the Office of the Defense an argument to challenge the legitimacy of the STL at trial by arguing that the STL was not established in a legitimate way and that therefore the STL has no jurisdiction to even hear the case. This same argument was made in the first trial of the Yugoslavia Tribunal. Once the names of those indicted are made public look for the Office of Defense to make this same argument in the Hariri assassination case
Q: If trial judge Daniel Fransen confirms Prosecutor Bellemare's indictment what happens next?
FL: The indictment will be sent to Lebanon and Syria and anywhere else those indicted are thought to residing. An effort will be made to serve personal copies on all those named in the indictment. If they cannot be located another method such as publication in the media might be used to give those indicted fair notice. If those indicted decide to appear at the Tribunal for trial they can have their own lawyers or use those at the Office of Defense which has great power and equal standing with the Office of the Prosecutor and the Trial Chambers.
If those indicted decide to ignore the proceedings they will be tried in absentia as though they were present and lawyers acting on their behalf from the Office of Defense will defend them.
Q: For the past couple of months we have read in the media that Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare asked the Lebanese authorities for more information. But this was after he handed in his indictment. Why does he want more information if he has completed his indictment which should have included all his evidence to support it?
FL: Actually, Bellemare has every right and arguably a duty to try to gather more evidence while he is awaiting the decision of the pre-trial judge on his submitted indictment. Bellemare is presumably doing everything he can to convince pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen to confirm it. He is free to file everything he can to present the strongest case he can muster. Once Bellesmare has submitted all else he has discovered that he thinks is relevant then it is up to the Trial Chamber to accept or reject his case against those he suspects of the Hariri assassination.
Veterans Today / Managing Editor: Thank you Mr. Lamb.