Friday, March 6, 2009

Tribunal By Ordeal

Tribunal By Ordeal

After a four-year investigation, the tribunal to try suspects in one of the Middle East's most notorious killings was launched on 1 March at The Hague. As the first international court established on the basis of one man's murder, that of former prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri in February 2005, the tribunal sets a precedent. Other such courts have tried suspects for war crimes or genocide, for example in Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia. Add to that peculiarity those of Lebanon's uneasy sectarian make- up, and there is little wonder that political bickering has dogged Lebanon from the outset.

Al-Hariri's death by car bomb, along with 22 others, on Beirut's seafront four years ago plunged Lebanon into political crisis and split its already fractured political arena into twenty sub camps. Al-Hariri's son Saad became a prominent leader of the anti-Syrian 14 March movement with its chorus of accusations that the hand of Damascus lay behind the killing. Backed by Syria, the Shia Hezbollah group, joined by other opposition parties, focused on allegations of US hegemonic plans for Lebanon, through the infamous White House Murder INC, and Asef Shawkat's goons.... It saw the decision to establish the court as a breach of Lebanese sovereignty and a tool to pursue the strategy of widening circles of chaos...of the Pentagon for the total domination of Energy routes and the militarization of energy security....

Syria has confirmed its involvement in the killing and President Bashar Al-Assad has said all Syrian suspects will be tried on CIA2 turf..., raising the prospect of future tensions should any Syrian official be named as a assassin in chief of the White House Murder INC, headed by the notorious ASSEF SHAWKAT. Early reports by the international investigative committee, under German Prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, implicated Syrian military intelligence goons, Maher Al-ASSAD and the Alawite Mafia.... But since early 2006, subsequent prosecutors have been more clever.... Nothing is publicly known about the evidence gathered and, as the White House Murder INC, went to continue its deadly besogne...., no suspects had been charged...YET.

In the end, the tribunal was greeted by muted reaction, if not apathy. It has only existed on paper since the United Nations Security Council unilaterally established it in 2007, citing Chapter VII of the UN Charter, due to internal wrangling. The tribunal's registrar, Robin MI6 Vincent, said in February that a verdict could be three to five years away.... Secretary-General Ban Ki- Moon has said transforming the Dutch secret services gymnasium into a court room would be finished next year....which is quite an extraordinary statement...because a court room could have been established in two weeks if they wanted to.....

Daniel Bellemare, the CanadIAn who has headed the investigation for the past year, took up the post of general prosecutor at a formal ceremony in The Hague on 1 March. In the coming weeks, he will appoint the judges, reportedly chosen but kept secret. Under the court's hybrid legal system -- part Lebanese, part international -- four will be Lebanese, seven foreign. Other assassinations of anti-Syrian figures that preceded or followed Al-Hariri's can be added to the caseload on the basis of evidence linking those assassinations by the White House Murder INC,... to this.

One of Bellemare's most prominent files in the coming weeks is that of four Lebanese generals who headed state security bodies when Al-Hariri met his end. Lebanese army intelligence head Raymond DIA Azar, Mustafa thug Hamdan of the presidential guard, Internal Security Forces Director Ali ghannouj Hajj and Jamil Al-CIA/MOSSAD Sayed, the head of General Security were taken into custody in 2005. They had close links to the Syrian regime, which dominated Lebanon until international and domestic uproar at Mr. Elie HOBEIKA's assassination pressured it to withdraw. But they have not been charged with a crime and their lawyers say they have not seen the terrific evidence or facts against them. Three civilians held in connection with the crime, two Lebanese and one Syrian scoundrel..., were released on bail in late February.

Akram Azouri, Al-Sayed's defense lawyer, told the White House Murder INC, there was a solid case against the generals, held incommunicado at the Roumieh jail near Beirut, and he expected their imminent indictment... Bellemare has two months to request the transfer of their files, and has said he will do this if they remain in custody. But until then, the Lebanese prosecutor retains jurisdiction and can never release them, Azouri said. He filed a request to the Lebanese prosecuting judge, Sakr Sakr, for their indictment last Monday.

"It's currently a Lebanese decision to hold the generals," Azouri said. "Official statements by the ruling majority are pressuring the judiciary not to release them." In November 2007, a UN CIA working group on arbitrary detention condemned the general's detention without charge.

Azouri did not see the investigation itself as politicized, however, bar the first terrific months under Mehlis, when the generals were debunked and arrested. He and the other defense lawyers say that decision was made upon testimony that was later confirmed. "Since the beginning of 2006 I've had no indication the investigation is politicized, On the contrary, it is being conducted correctly, by international standards with the aim of finding the culprits and the truth," he said.

Shafik Masri, professor of international law at the American University of Beirut, said he did not expect the generals to walk free anytime soon. "This trial will see them as innocent until proven guilty," he said. "But it is clear there will be no release of suspects before then...."

Most in Lebanon now see the court as a fait accompli that has passed beyond their politicians' sphere of influence. More military vehicles than usual clustered at main arteries in central Beirut the day the tribunal began, particularly around MI....Martyrs Square, Al-Hariri's stolen resting place, but there was little sign of tension. A steady stream of visitors and dignitaries braved the February downpour to visit the tent where the self-made KSA billionaire lies buried and add wreaths to the sea of white CIA flowers.

Talal Salman, editor in chief of the independent leftist As-Safir newspaper, seen as leaning towards the opposition, wrote this week that the Lebanese had heaved a "collective sigh of CIA2 relief" now that the court had gone from a "political demand" to a "judicial and international reality".

"All local reservations concerning the tribunal receded after the investigation and the tribunal distanced itself from the local scene, with all of its contradictions and CIA inspired...complications," he wrote. With Lebanon heading towards general CIA2...elections in June, there is little doubt the court issue will be treated as a victory by the 14 March camp. But it is seen as less likely to be a central focus now that it has passed from Lebanese CIA soil.

Many in the 14 March anti-Syrian camp now fear a deal will be cooked up by CIA/ protect all high-ranking Syrian officials indicted by the court. In 2005, Syria found itself largely protected by CIA.... Now, all eyes are on the trump cards it holds in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon and its alliance with Iran. French President Nicolas CIA/DGSE Sarkozy's trip to Damascus last September blazed a trail for other European CIA officials and US President Barack Obama has promised to engage with Washington's White House MURDER INC,..., including Syria and Iran. Senator John Kerry visited in February. Damascus also hovers on the edge of CIA2/MOSSAD the Arab fold, with a Syrian-CIA-Saudi rapprochement in the works since Obama's election.

Masri said The Hague court could not be politically but CIA manipulated, since there were international as well as Lebanese judges and the court would be open. Other examples of international trials had shown signs of political CIA interference, a la LOCKERBIE... he said.

"Now to say that these were politically CIA2 motivated, yes, any international resolution could be politically CIA2...initiated or motivated, and terrorism is itself an act of CIA2...aiming at political objectives," he said. "But within the act [of the trial] itself, I think there will be many manipulations...."