Bellemare Reportedly Refused to Postpone Release of New Indictment
Special Tribunal for Lebanon Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare refused to postpone the release of a new indictment until the renewal of the STL’s cooperation protocol, according to al-Liwaa newspaper published Monday.
An opposition parliamentary source told the daily that Bellemare’s discussions with Lebanese officials during his farewell visit to Beirut last week increased the political tension in the country.
“This explains the Free Patriotic Movement’s escalation (concerning local issues), which is driven by its allies (Hizbullah),” the source said.
However, Bellemare didn’t disclose during his meetings with Lebanese senior officials if Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen will issue new indictments in the attacks on the three officials that have been linked to ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s murder.
According to al-Liwaa, the second alleged indictment that is expected to be issued soon includes so far only the names of Lebanese suspects. The first, which was issued in Hariri’s case in August, accused four members of Hizbullah.
Last week, the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat published a report saying that Fransen has made a progress in preparing the indictments in the assassination attempts of MP Marwan Hamadeh, ex-Defense Minister Elias Murr, and the murder of former Communist party leader George Hawi.
A Lebanese senior official, who held talks with Bellemare, said that the international community is convinced that the STL is of “great importance,” especially to halt political assassinations.
“It is keen on supporting the work of the STL that is abiding by the transparency and the justice policies,” the official stressed.
Bellemare arrived in Lebanon last Tuesday on a farewell tour of Lebanese officials to mark the end of his tenure as prosecutor.
He will leave his post in March, but his successor has not yet been revealed.
Former Information Minister Tareq Mitri told An Nahar published on Monday that the Lebanese cabinet’s decision over the extension of the cooperation protocol with the STL isn’t binding as the U.N. chief has the final decision.
Lebanon's mandate with the U.N. as concerns the STL expires at the end of February. Under the protocol establishing the STL, the mandate may be renewed without Lebanese approval if the court has not completed its work.
“U.N. Chief (Ban Ki-moon) sets the timeframe of the extension in consultation with the Lebanese government and the U.N. Security Council,” Mitri stressed.
Asked about what Prime Minister Najib Miqati can do concerning the issue, he said: “We don’t know the procedures that he will follow.”
“The cabinet doesn’t have to discuss the matter as the renewal of the cooperation protocol happens automatically,” the daily quoted Mitri as saying.