United Nations: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday extended the mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon from March 1 to December 31 this year.
The extension is “for the limited purpose of completion of the non-judicial residual functions of the special tribunal and for the orderly closure of the special tribunal,” said a statement released by the UN chief’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Mandated to conduct the trials of those accused of carrying out the attack of Feb. 14, 2005, in Beirut that killed 22 people, including the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri, and injured 226 others, the work of the special tribunal based near The Hague in the Netherlands is coming to its end.
Following a complex investigation and a trial in absentia, the special tribunal acquitted Assad Hassan Sabra. It convicted Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi and Hussein Hassan Oneissi for their roles in the attack, sentencing them to five concurrent sentences of life imprisonment, the heaviest sentence possible under the Tribunal’s Statute and Rules.
A completion plan, developed and agreed upon between the United Nations and the government of Lebanon, will guide the special tribunal during this mandate period to ensure the completion of the tribunal’s residual functions, including preserving the records and archives of the special tribunal, responding to information requests, and protecting and supporting of victims and witnesses who cooperated with the special tribunal.
The secretary-general “commends the work of all the judges, senior officials and staff who have worked tirelessly and diligently over the years to implement the special tribunal’s mandate, and calls upon member states to continue to support the special tribunal in 2023 to ensure that its residual functions can be completed and its legacy can be ensured,” said the statement.