STL Reschedules Filing of Final Briefs, Oral Closing Arguments


The Trial Chamber of the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon has ordered the Prosecutor and the Legal Representatives of Victims in the Ayyash et al. case to file their final trial briefs by Monday 16 July 2018 and the Defense counsel for the four Accused by 13 August 2018, the STL said on Wednesday.

In a revised scheduling order issued Tuesday, the Trial Chamber stated that it will hear oral closing arguments from the parties and participating victims in the weeks of Monday 27 August to Friday 7 September 2018.

Under Rule 147 of the STL Rules of Procedure and Evidence, following the presentation of all the evidence, the Prosecutor, the participating victims and the Defense may file final trial briefs and present closing arguments.

The presentation of the closing arguments concludes the trial in the Ayyash et al. case. The Judges will then withdraw to deliberate and will issue a judgment in due course, the STL said.

According to a court statement, a finding of guilt may be reached only when a majority of the Trial Chamber is satisfied that guilt has been proved beyond reasonable doubt (Rule 148).

The Prosecution closed its case against the four Accused on February 7, 2018.

On March 7, the Trial Chamber dismissed an application for a judgment of acquittal, under Rule 167, made by the Defense of suspected Hizbullah member Hussein Hassan Oneissi. No other Defense counsel made applications under this rule.

Further, of the four Accused, only counsel for Oneissi elected to present a Defense case.

In April, the Trial Chamber had initially scheduled the filing of final briefs and closing arguments for June and July, respectively, but the order was later suspended due to procedural developments.

The tribunal is trying four members of Hizbullah in the 2005 suicide truck bombing that killed ex-PM Rafik Hariri and 21 others. The five indicted and later put on trial in absentia included one of Hizbullah's top military commanders, Mustafa Badreddine, who was killed in Syria in 2016.

Hizbullah denies involvement in the murder and the group's leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has denounced the court as a conspiracy by the U.S. and Israel.