In a farewell letter addressed to the Lebanese people , outgoing Special Tribunal for Lebanon Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare wrote on the occasion marking the end of his term that historic days lie ahead for justice and the People of Lebanon.
“As my professional involvement with the people of Lebanon comes to an end, I would like to leave you with a message of hope. Historic days lie ahead for justice and the people of Lebanon,” he said.
“But justice does not happen overnight. In this respect, the Lebanese people, and especially the victims, have been patient. For this, I want to thank all of you.” He added
Bellemare also voiced gratitude to the Lebanese authorities “for their continued cooperation and assistance.”
He also said that his decision not to seek reappointment for a second term “was indeed a very difficult one.”
Bellemare will leave office at the end of February. In November 2007 he was assigned by U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon as the commissioner for the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) into the 2005 assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri, replacing Serge Brammertz of Belgium.
U.N. secretary-general also designated Bellemare as the prosecutor of the STL, an appointment he took up on March 1, 2009.
Four members of the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah militant group have been indicted by the UN-backed STL for Hariri’s assassination , however, Hezbollah strongly denies the charges and refuses to cooperate with the court.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati revealed last Tuesday that Bellemare had informed him during his most recent trip to Lebanon that he will submit a new revised indictment before leaving office at the end of February.
The revised indictments will cover the assassination of former Communist party chief George Hawi, and attempted assassinations of former ministers Marwan Hamadeh and Elias Murr
Here is the full text of Bellemare’s farewell letter:
“As I approach the end of my tenure as Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, I want to bid farewell to the People of Lebanon.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve both as the last Commissioner of the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission, and as the founding Prosecutor of the Tribunal. I want to thank you for your support and trust in carrying out these profoundly important mandates. And for the journey of progress we have travelled together.
During my tenure, I often felt that the fight against impunity would be a long and difficult journey. Nonetheless, I continued to be passionate about the mission and about Lebanon. The People of Lebanon deserve no less. They deserve a society free of impunity, a society based on a culture of accountability. Is there a greater mission than one built on the desire of a people for truth and justice?
It is encouraging to see that this legitimate desire for justice and accountability is now gaining greater momentum. Today our fight against impunity is shared even more broadly. We have already accomplished a lot together in this respect. While much still remains to be done, I am confident that the foundations are firm. I am leaving with reluctance, but with the sense of having done the right thing, objectively, passionately and, with professionalism and respect.
These have been the most intense years of my professional life. Those who advised me when I was considering whether or not to accept this challenge were right when they said that if I declined the opportunity, I would regret it for the rest of my life. While it has been anything but easy, it has been immensely fulfilling both personally and professionally. It should come as no surprise that my decision not to seek reappointment for a second term was indeed a very difficult one.
As my professional involvement with the People of Lebanon comes to an end, I would like to leave you with a message of hope. Historic days lie ahead for justice and the People of Lebanon.
But Justice does not happen overnight. In this respect, the Lebanese people, and especially the victims, have been patient. For this, I want to thank all of you.
I would also like to thank the Lebanese Authorities for their continued cooperation and assistance.
I am proud to be leaving behind a strong and committed team of professionals, who have joined the Office of the Prosecutor because they believe in the cause of justice for Lebanon. They have worked long and hard, often under very difficult circumstances, and they, too, have all my gratitude.
With your support, they will continue their mission.