Lebanon News

After silence, STL judge goes to objections

BEIRUT: After not addressing the issue for several weeks, Trial Chamber President David Re dealt with a string of defense objections over the prosecution’s alleged obstruction of procedural process at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Tuesday. Before the prosecution resumed its questioning of telecoms expert Gary Platt during Tuesday’s second session, Re and defense counselor Thomas Hannis settled several objections from recent weeks that were reiterated in the morning session.

Hannis, representing the interests of defendant Salim Ayyash, has made objections on a near daily basis. Tuesday’s exchange between Re and Hannis marked a rare serious discussion of allegation.

“I showed you what was on Mr. Platt’s schedule for the day, [there are] green and purple calls, [but] nothing about blues,” Hannis began. The covert cellular networks referred to in the case have been color-coded to delineate their roles in the alleged conspiracy to assassinate former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. “These are the same objections I’ve made before. You’ve heard my arguments before and skipped [them].”

Along the same line, Hannis later contended that evidence presented during a segment of the prosecution’s case ought to be inadmissible. “There is nothing in his report about red, green or blue activity mentioned [in this segment] so we object to slides 135 through 138 – 87 percent of what’s in here is totally new,” Hannis said. Re overruled the objection on evidence concerning purple-group phones, stating that the prosecution had indeed given notice, albeit late. On the other cases, he affirmed that the judges of the trial chamber would look at the evidence and decide on proper protocol following the adjournment of Tuesday’s session.

The judge also confirmed that additional time would be awarded to the defense during cross-examination as “reparation,” as counselors would inevitably have to adjust their strategy cross-examining the expert given “new” evidence presented by the prosecution. Gary Platt, an investigator with expertise in covert cellular networks has been the sole witness under examination since the end of January.

Prosecution lawyer Nigel Povoas’ direct examination of Platt has been fraught with interruptions by the defense. A date has yet to be confirmed, but the defense will cross-examine the expert after the prosecution has finished. The STL resumes Wednesday.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 22, 2017, on page 2.

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