Lebanon president reiterated his support for STL


Francois Roux suleimanPresident Michel Suleiman on Wednesday reiterated Lebanon’s support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) , following a meeting at the Baabda palace with the head of its Defense Office Francois Roux, who updated the president on the trial’s proceedings.

Roux thanked Suleiman for his efforts aiming to adopt the Arabic and French languages in the court proceedings.

He also praised the proficiency of the Lebanese lawyers and judges working for the STL’s defense office and prosecution.

Nine years after the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik al-Hariri, the trial of four men accused of his killing opened on January 16.

Hariri and 21 other people were killed on the Beirut seafront in February 2005, the deadliest of a series of attacks against critics of Syria’s military dominance in Lebanon.

His killing triggered huge public protest and led to the establishment of the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a court near The Hague where prosecution lawyers will set out the case against the four absent defendants on Thursday before a panel of Lebanese and international judges.

Hariri’s Western supporters hailed the tribunal as a chance to close a long chapter of impunity in Lebanon, where bombers and assassins have operated since the 1975-1990 civil war with little prospect of facing justice in court.

But the bomb which killed the billionaire former premier also drove a wedge between Hariri’s Sunni Muslim community and Lebanese Shi’ites loyal to Syrian-backed Hezbollah, whose members now stand accused the killing.

President Michel Suleiman described last week the trial as “a step towards accountability and a lesson to those who plot to commit more crimes”.