Lebanon News

Analyst ignores attribution details: STL defense counsel

BEIRUT: Prosecution analyst Andrew Donaldson took to the witness stand at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon once again Monday, under cross-examination by Emile Aoun, lead defense counsel for defendant Salim Ayyash. Ayyash is one of four accused of involvement in the 2005 bomb attack that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others.

Donaldson, who provided the prosecution’s reports on the suspects’ cellphone usage, is scheduled to complete his evidence this week after appearing before the chamber over several months.

Much of Thursday’s shortened session followed a similar pattern to previous days: The defense counsel again took issue with Donaldson’s attribution of particular cellphones to a defense counsel client.

Aoun read the accounts of various witnesses, who, when shown the number of the cellphone attributed to Ayyash by the prosecution, could not recall whether or not the number was his. The defense counsel argued that this was a negative indicator that the phone had in fact belonged to Ayyash.

Donaldson was unconvinced, stating that evidence of this kind would not factor highly when attributing a cellphone.

“Do you recall this number you called five times five years ago? I do not see [this] as high quality evidence,” he told Aoun.

The rejoinder from the defense counsel was that Donaldson had in previous sessions frequently stated the need to “view attribution in light of the totality of the evidence,” and he, therefore, should have considered all information, including such details as witnesses being unable to positively attribute a cellphone number to one of the accused.

Donaldson refused to concede, noting that his reports ran into the many hundreds of pages already. If he was obliged to mention every detail, the reports would become so large as to become impractical, he suggested, and it would negate the point of employing an analyst to evaluate the evidence.

Donaldson’s cross-examination by Ayyash’s defense team will continue tomorrow.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 17, 2017, on page 3.

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