Lebanon: Ban Ki-moon welcomes Dutch agreement to host Hariri tribunal

17 August 2007 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the Netherlands’ decision to agree to host the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is being set up to prosecute those people responsible for the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said he was pleased to receive a letter on Wednesday from Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende “informing him that the Government of the Netherlands is favourably disposed to hosting” the Tribunal.

Mr. Ban, who is in the process of taking the steps and measures necessary to establishing the Tribunal, will send a delegation to the Netherlands in the coming weeks to discuss the practical arrangements required for creating and operating the court.

In June, a senior UN official told reporters that it is likely to take at least a year for the Special Tribunal to begin operations as, in addition to finding a location, funds have to be generated, judges and other officials have to be appointed and security arrangements for staff, victims and witnesses must be determined.

According to the applicable rules, the Tribunal will not be established until there are sufficient financial contributions to create the court and run it for a year and enough pledges to meet the expected expenses of another two years.

The senior UN official said about $30 million could be needed to finance the court's first year, but that amount may change depending on whether the Tribunal is housed in existing buildings, a renovated complex or an entirely new structure.

In a letter to the Dutch Government last month, Mr. Ban “emphasized that the experience and knowledge gained by the Netherlands in hosting several international courts and tribunals was invaluable,” according to his spokesperson’s statement.

The Dutch city of The Hague is already host to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), while the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) will also hold its trial of the notorious former Liberian president Charles Taylor there.

Mr. Hariri died in a massive car bombing in Beirut in February 2005 that took the lives of 22 other people. The UN International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) is currently probing that attack, as well as 17 other recent cases in Lebanon.

Those other cases include the killing of the Lebanese lawmaker Walid Eido, who died along with seven others in June in another explosion in Beirut.

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