The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:
The Secretary-General has extended the mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon from 1 March 2021 for a further period of two years, or until the completion of the cases before the Special Tribunal, if sooner, or the exhaustion of available funds, if sooner. The extension is in accordance with Security Council resolution 1757 (2007). Within the indicated two-year mandate period, it is anticipated that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will progressively draw down its activities as the judicial work before the different Chambers is completed.
The mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is based near The Hague in the Netherlands, is to hold trials for those accused of carrying out the attack of 14 February 2005 in Beirut, which killed 22 people, including the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri, and injured 226 more.
The trial in absentia of four individuals indicted over the killing began in January 2014. On 18 August 2020, Salim Jamil Ayyash was convicted in relation to five counts relating to the attack. In the same judgment, the three other accused, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra, were found not guilty. On 11 December 2020, Mr. Ayyash received five concurrent sentences of life imprisonment. On 13 January 2021, the Prosecution, Defence and Legal Representative of Participating Victims filed notices of appeal. Appeals proceedings are ongoing.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon also has jurisdiction over attacks carried out in Lebanon between 1 October 2004 and 12 December 2005 if they are connected to the attack of 14 February 2005 and are of a similar nature and gravity. Pre-trial proceedings began in 2019 against Mr. Ayyash in relation to three attacks against Marwan Hamade, Georges Hawi and Elias El-Murr that occurred on 1 October 2004, 21 June 2005 and 12 July 2005, respectively.
The Secretary-General reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to support the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the fight against impunity for such major crimes in order to bring those responsible to justice. The United Nations looks forward to the completion of the mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in a timely manner. The United Nations also looks forward to the continued support and cooperation of the Government of Lebanon.