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Hariri tribunal overturns challenge

Nov. 8, 2010 at 11:05 AM

LEIDSCHENDAM-VOORBURG, Netherlands, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- There are no issues at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that could affect the impartiality of two of the panel's judges, the court ruled.

Lebanese Brig. Gen. Jamil el-Sayed filed a motion against the tribunal to have judges Ralph Riachy and Afif Chamseddine disqualified. Sayed argued that both judges should be dismissed because they were nominated by Beirut to sit at the tribunal.

Antonio Cassese, the president of the United Nations-backed STL, said in his rejection that if Sayed's argument were accepted, no Lebanese judge could sit on the panel, which would undermine the hybrid nature of the special court.

The STL is investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah is widely believed to have played a role in the slaying, though the Shiite group said it has evidence to suggest Israel had a hand in the plot.

Sayed, jailed for four years in connection to the assassination, said he believes Saad Hariri, the current prime minister and son of Rafik Hariri, paid witnesses to testify against him.

Lebanon is bracing for an indictment from the STL possibly as early as December. The international community has stressed the work of the tribunal is important to preserve Lebanon's sovereignty.

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