UN's Ban: Lebanon tribunal on Hariri murder to begin work in March
The international tribunal to prosecute the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 20 other murders will begin on March 1, 2009, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday.
Ban said the date was agreed upon between him and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. The proceedings will focus on the assassination of Hariri in February 2005, as well as on the murders of other Lebanese politicians and journalists murdered since that time, dpa reported.
"I and Prime Minister Siniora agree that the launch of the Special Tribunal will be a significant step towards the end of impunity," Ban said in a statement issued at UN headquarters in New York. "We also hope that the UN Security Council will endorse the plan."
The 15-nation council established the tribunal to bring before justice the perpetrators of the murders. Most of the victims had spoken out against the Syrian military occupation of Lebanon, as well as that country's interference in Lebanese politics. The council ordered the investigation of the murders, carried out by an independent investigation team.
Ban said the team will begin on January 1 to gradually transfer from Beirut to The Hague, where the tribunal will hold the trial on evidence presented by the investigators.
"I wish to thank those member states that have contributed funds to the Special Tribunal, and encourage all member states to pledge their financial support for the coming years so that we can be assured that the Special Tribunal will continue on a firm financial footing," Ban said.