Cabinet split over trial of false winesses


The Lebanese cabinet appears split over whether false witnesses should be tried prior to or following the indictment by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) .

Lebanon Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar said in his report on false witnesses in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri that the issue of false witnesses falls within the jurisdiction of the Lebanese judiciary but that the decision awaits a review of of the International Tribunal indictment.

Najjar also said the Justice Council lacks authority to look into the false witnesses’ issue since its role “is restricted to crimes committed against state security, spying activities, murders that relate to international law and undermining the state’s authority.”

But March 8 opposition Ministers as well as Speaker Nabih Berri insist that the Justice Council puts its hand on the issue.

The Opposition ministers will hold a coordination meeting on Monday under Speaker Nabih Berri, al-Manar television channel said.

Local media on Monday said the meeting is aimed at unifying the Opposition stance ahead of Tuesday’s Cabinet session to discuss Najjar’s report.

On the other hand the majority March 14 coalition ministers insisted on dealing with the false witnesses’ issue after issuance of the indictment.

Mustaqbal MP Ammar Houri said that false witnesses could only be put on trial after the indictment is released by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

He said the reason for that is to “protect the identity of witnesses who are to testify before the International Tribunal.”



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