Lebanon News

STL Appeals Chamber decides on legal issues in confidential indictment

BEIRUT: The Appeals Chamber at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon issued its decision Wednesday on legal issues related to an indictment submitted by the prosecutor in July.

The indictment, which remains confidential, initially underwent review by pretrial Judge Daniel Fransen, who submitted queries to the Appeals Chamber. Members of the prosecution and defense proceeded to make their submissions to Fransen’s queries on Oct. 12.

Led by STL President Judge Ivana Hrdlickova, the Appeals Chamber’s major conclusions included a definition of criminal association as an oral or written agreement between two or more people. The purpose of that agreement, the judges clarified, involves the “commission of one or more felonies against persons or property, or felonies undermining the authority of the state.”

In addition, the chamber differentiated between criminal association and conspiracy, noting they are separate crimes under Lebanese law.

“A criminal association can be directed at a broader range of crimes than a conspiracy; and in a conspiracy, the members have to agree on the means to commit the crime, whereas in a criminal association they do not,” an STL media advisory released following the hearing stipulated.

The final key conclusion made Wednesday declared Fransen responsible for assessing the credibility of the prosecution’s cases without drawing upon any extraneous material.

The Appeals Chamber noted specifically that certain evidence from the case investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri can be used as part of Fransen’s assessment.

Earlier in the day, prosecution analyst Andrew Donaldson underwent cross-examination by Defense Counselor Thomas Hannis, representing the interests of Salim Ayyash.

Hannis concluded his questioning, in which he attempted to distance his client from mobile devices linking the indicted suspect to the conspiracy. “Thirty-three percent of these contacts have an unknown relationship with Mr. Ayyash,” he said, referring to contacts on the cellphone attributed by the prosecution to Ayyash. “Certainly, if you had identified all 30 of those relationships ... with Ayyash you would be more confident in the attribution,” Hannis suggested to Donaldson.

The prosecution analyst responded that Hannis had taken this fact out of the broader context of the device’s identification.

“As we discussed previously, the nature of this phone is different from what we have seen prior. If you [use] the contact profile in isolation, you wouldn’t say this is Ayyash, you wouldn’t even get to the family. But with all the evidence in totality, I don’t have discomfort [attributing the phone to him],” Donaldson responded.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 19, 2017, on page 2.

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