STL: Khayat Guilty, Al-Jadeed not Guilty in Contempt Case
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Friday found Karma Khayat guilty for the obstruction of justice by not abiding by calls to stop the publication of names of so-called witnesses in the trial of former Premier Rafik Hariri.
Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri found both Khayat and Al-Jadeed S.A.L. “not guilty with respect to the charges under count 1 of the order in lieu of indictment,” said the court.
The first count includes diffusing information that undermines public confidence in the court's ability to protect the confidentiality of information about, or provided by, witnesses or potential witnesses.
But Lettieri found Khayat guilty and Al Jadeed S.A.L. not guilty with respect to the charges under count 2, meaning for failing to remove the information on the alleged witnesses from Al Jadeed TV’s website and YouTube channel despite an order by the STL Pre-Trial Judge to do so.
Around 40 diplomats, journalists and others attended the public judgment hearing at the STL headquarters in The Hague.
Lebanon's Charge d'Affaires and diplomats from the Tunisian, Egyptian and South Korean missions in the Netherlands were among them.
After the verdict, Khayat addressed the court, saying “we will not stop from carrying out our duties and revealing your mistakes.”
Khayat's lawyer Karim Khan said prosecutors were "shooting the messenger" because Al-Jadeed was not responsible for any leaks of the witnesses' identities.
Khan told journalists even though he was satisfied that Al-Jadeed was acquitted, he would appeal the judgement against Khayat.
"The battle goes on. We have good grounds of appeal," said the lawyer.
The defense will have 15 days to appeal the verdict after the pronouncement of the sentence. If it doesn't make an appeal by then, the STL will impose a fine of up to 100,000 euros or issue a maximum seven-year jail sentence against Khayat.
The judge set the date for the sentence on September 28.
In case of an appeal, the court will re-convene to study the case.
Khayat and Al-Jadeed were charged with two counts of contempt and obstruction of justice under rule 60 of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence.
Twelve witnesses have made testimonies during the trial that spanned from April till June.
In April 2013, a list of 167 names of so-called witnesses for the trial of Hariri was published by a previously unknown group identified as "Journalists for the Truth."
The group said it wanted to "unveil the corruption" of the STL.
Both al-Akhbar newspaper and Al-Jadeed published the list.
Set up in 2007, the STL is the only international ad hoc tribunal with the jurisdiction to try an act of terror, specifically dealing with Hariri's death.
Hariri and 22 others, including a suspected suicide bomber, died in a massive car bomb blast on the Beirut waterfront on February 14, 2005.