PRESS CONFERENCE BY UNITED NATIONS LEGAL COUNSEL ON SPECIAL TRIBUNAL FOR LEBANON

19 September 2007

PRESS CONFERENCE BY UNITED NATIONS LEGAL COUNSEL ON SPECIAL TRIBUNAL FOR LEBANON

19 September 2007
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

press conference by United Nations legal counsel on special tribunal for lebanon

The United Nations was making good progress towards creating a selection panel to help the Secretary-General appoint a Special Tribunal on Lebanon to prosecute those responsible for murdering former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 other people, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Nicolas Michel said at a Headquarters news conference this afternoon.

Mr. Michel said the selection panel -– to comprise two judges, either sitting or retired from an international tribunal, and a representative of the Secretary-General -- would be set up in the “not-too-remote” future, and dismissed criticism that the United Nations was dragging its feet in establishing the Special Tribunal to try the February 2005 killings.  On the contrary, Security Council members had said during a meeting earlier in the day that they were pleased with the Organization’s rapid pace.  “The matter of concern is to have an efficient investigation in place,” he added.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a 4 September report to the Security Council that he hoped to appoint judges for the Special Tribunal -- based on the panel’s recommendations -– by year’s end, and would work closely with the Lebanese Government to appoint a prosecutor and deputy prosecutor.  The Government had already sent the Secretary-General a list of 12 judges proposed by the Supreme Council of the Judiciary and a list of candidates for the deputy prosecutor post.  Today, Mr. Michel said other Member States had until 24 September to submit candidates and no names would be disclosed until the start of the selection process.

According to the Tribunal’s Statute, which took effect 10 June, the chambers will comprise an international pre-trial judge with authority to issue arrest warrants; one Lebanese and two international trial judges; two Lebanese and three international appeals judges; and one Lebanese and one international alternate judge.  The judges of the trial and appeals chambers would then each select a judge to preside over proceedings in their respective chambers.  The appeal chamber judge would also be the Tribunal’s president.

During today’s press conference, reporters peppered Mr. Michel with questions about the transfer of power from the United Nations Independent International Investigation Commission to the new Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and the new body’s jurisdiction over political murders occurring in the country since October 2004 in connection with the former Lebanese Prime Minister’s assassination.

Responding to queries about the Tribunal’s future seat, the Legal Counsel said the Dutch Government had presented three possible courts to house it, but no decision had been made.  The United Nations had created a trust fund to finance the Tribunal’s costs -– estimated at $35 million during the first year of operation, $45 million in the second and $40 million in the third.  Voluntary contributions by Member States would finance 51 per cent of the costs and the Lebanese Government would fund the rest.

Also during the briefing, Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, read out a statement (see Press Release SG/SM/11167) in which Secretary-General Ban condemned today’s terrorist attack that killed a Lebanese parliamentarian and six civilians in eastern Beirut.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.