AMMAN: Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has asked the Lebanese government to pay its dues to the special tribunal and the international community to shoulder its responsibilities, his media office said in a statement on Saturday.
The court based in the Netherlands on Thursday canceled the opening of a new trial of a convicted suspect that had been set for June 16 “due to lack of funds.”
“Due to the inability of the Lebanese state to fulfill its obligations in light of the stifling economic and financial crisis that our people are experiencing, and the failure of the international community to pay its dues, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) decided to stop the trial in the assassination cases of George Hawi, and the two former ministers Marwan Hamadeh and Elias Al-Murr, as well as other issues related to the trial of (former) prime minister Rafik Hariri and his companions,” Hariri said.
The STL, set up to try suspects in the 2005 killing of Hariri, said this week it risks closure by the end of July without a cash injection.
“We demand the Lebanese government pay the financial contribution it owes, we call on the international community to assume its responsibilities, and fulfill its obligations of these humanitarian issues of international justice,” the statement added.
Hariri said abandoning the special tribunal would mean abandoning justice and human rights and would encourage political assassination, impunity and the “establishment of the law of the jungle in a country like Lebanon that is drowning in a sea of crises.”
On Friday, Lebanon urged the UN to urgently consider “alternative means” to fund a UN-backed court on Rafik Hariri’s murder that may close over a cash crunch.
The STL is estimated to have cost between $600 million and $1 billion since it opened in 2009.
It draws 51 percent of its budget from donor countries and the rest from Lebanon, which is grappling with its deepest economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
The World Bank said this week that Lebanon’s financial downturn is likely to rank among the world’s worst since the mid-19th century.
“Based on our belief in justice and our conviction in freedom and democracy, we call on the Lebanese state to pay the financial contribution it owes and appeal to friendly countries to submit their financial obligations to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon because its work would put an end to political murders, establish the principle of non-impunity, promote a culture of justice, and defend human beings and their right to live,” Hariri said.
Rafik Hariri, who had stepped down as Lebanon’s prime minister in October 2004, was killed in a February 2005 suicide blast targeting his armored convoy.
The attack in Beirut also killed 21 other people and injured 226.
Born from a United Nations Security Council resolution, the STL last year sentenced Hezbollah suspect Salim Ayyash in absentia to life imprisonment over the 2005 truck bombing.
The tribunal was meant to begin next week another trial for Ayyash, who remains on the run, in a separate case over three attacks targeting Lebanese politicians between 2004 and 2005.
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