BEIRUT: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has issued a decision to try Salim Jamil Ayyash in absentia, the court announced Thursday.
Ayyash is accused of involvement in the assassination of George Hawi, former secretary of the Lebanese Communist Party, and the attempted assassinations of former ministers Marwan Hamadeh and Elias Murr.
A statement from the STL said that the court’s Trial Chamber II based its decision on “submissions from the prosecutor, registrar and the head of the Defence Office, and the steps taken by the Lebanese authorities to apprehend and inform Mr Ayyash about the proceedings against him.”
The court, which is based in the Dutch city of The Hague, said that “all reasonable steps” had been taken to contact Ayyash to inform him of the charges against him and to ensure that he appeared in court.
Ayyash's whereabouts were declared unknown by the STL in 2011 and a warrant is out for his arrest.
With Tuesday’s decision, the case Prosecutor v. Ayyash (STL 18-10) proceeds to the pre-trial phase.
Ayyash, along with three other individuals, is already being tried in absentia for his involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others on Feb. 14, 2005.
The court has not yet issued its ruling in the case, the closing arguments of which were delivered on in September 2018.
The four defendants are known to be members of Hezbollah, but they are facing trial as individuals. Hezbollah as an organization has not been indicted for the bombing.