Lebanon: International Hariri Tribunal Up And Running By June
An internatonal tribunal based either in Vienna or Geneva will be created by June to try suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafki Hariri, a Saudi newspaper said Tuesday. The daily ash-Sharq al-Aswat cited unidentified sources close to a United Nations commission of inquiry into the Hariri case. The tribunal would cost an estimated 100 million dollars to operate and would be presided by a judge from one of three countries - Belgium, Britain or Switzerland - while the deputy head will be Lebanese, the report said. According to the Saudi daily, UN officials will name the members of the tribunal in agreement with the Lebanese authorities. UN secretary general Kofi Annan's legal affairs counselor, Nicolas Michel, is expected to visit Beirut to try to finalise the issue in the next few weeks, it said citing the sources.

In another report on Tuesday, Beirut's Daily Star, questioned whether the 100 million dollars mentioned were enough to cover the tribunal's expenses. One way travelling costs for each witness alone would amount to 3,000 dollars, the Daily Star said, estimating that many such trips are envisaged. The UN is trying to convince the EU and specifically France, Britain and Germany to foot the bill, the Lebanese newspaper said. Last Friday, two Lebanese judges, Ralph Riyashi and Shukri Sader travelled to New York for talks with Michel at the UN's headquarters in connection with the setting up of the tribunal while the UN commission head Serge Brammertz is expected to visit Damascus to arrange the questioning of some Syrian security officials implicated in Hariri's killing.
Posted by: Fred 2006-03-09