Friday, June 26, 2009


New York, Jun 26 2009 5:10PM
Judge Ralph Jacques Riachy has taken up his post as Vice-President of the United Nations-backed tribunal set up to try the perpetrators of recent political killings in Lebanon, including the February 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

Judge Riachy, who was elected by his fellow judges at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, assumed his functions full time on 8 June, according to a news release issued in The Hague, where the Court is based.

He was one of the four Lebanese judges appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, upon the recommendation in December 2007 by the Selection Panel set up to interview Lebanese and international candidates for the positions of Tribunal judges.

The President of the Tribunal, which began its operations in early March, is Antonio Cassese of Italy.

The investigation of the murders of Mr. Hariri and 22 others in the 2005 bombing continues under the guidance of Prosecutor Bellemare, who also headed the probe while the case rested with the Beirut-based International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC). A trial will take place when he has sufficient evidence in place.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009


New York, Jun 25 2009 4:10PM
Individuals who have information regarding the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and other recent political killings can now provide that to the Prosecutor at the United Nations-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon through a newly created, secure webpage.

The webpage was designed specifically for individuals "who have valuable information for the investigation but have no secure and confidential means to contact the Investigation Division of the Office of the Prosecutor," according to a news release issued by the court.

The Tribunal noted that the webpage is a tool used in many parts of the world to facilitate access to investigators by potential witnesses. This particular webpage is available in the court's three official languages – Arabic, English and French.

An independent body located in The Hague, the Tribunal is designed to try those accused of a series of recent political murders in Lebanon, particularly the February 2005 bombing that killed Mr. Hariri and 22 others in downtown Beirut.

It took over from the Beirut-based International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) in the beginning of March 2009.


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Tuesday, June 09, 2009


New York, Jun 9 2009 4:10PM
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been discussing this weekend's peaceful parliamentary elections with Lebanese political leaders, expressing his hope that a new Government will be set up speedily.

In separate telephone calls this morning, Mr. Ban spoke with President Michel Suleiman, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Saad Hariri, leader of the 14 March coalition.

The Secretary-General "congratulated them on the elections and expressed the hope that the formation of the new government will proceed expeditiously and that it will take place in a calm and secure environment," UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York.

Mr. Ban also told the three men that he is counting on the new Government to fully implement Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbollah.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson yesterday, he congratulated Lebanon on the Sunday elections, urging all Lebanese people to cooperate "in the spirit of coexistence and democracy."

The Secretary-General also called on "all Lebanese to respect the results," voicing hope that "the process of government formation will commence expeditiously and that it will take place in a calm and secure environment."

Both yesterday's polls and the formation of a new Government "represent further important steps along the path of the revitalization of the State's political institutions," the statement added.


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Monday, June 01, 2009


New York, Jun 1 2009 5:10PM
Italy has taken command of the United Nations maritime task force (MTF), which was deployed off the Lebanese coast in 2006 to curtail arms smuggling following that year's Israel-Hizbollah war.

The naval force, part of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon is the first to be part of a UN peacekeeping mission. The MTF has been deployed on the request of the Lebanese Government to help the country's navy secure territorial waters and help prevent the unauthorized entry of arms and other materials by sea into the Middle Eastern nation.

At a handover ceremony from Belgium to Italy aboard the flagship BNS Leopold I over the weekend, UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano commended "the constructive relationship between the MTF and Lebanese Navy."

He applauded the "spirit of cooperation" between the two, which he said is crucial to successfully implementing Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war.

Since its operations began in October 2006, the MTF has hailed some 24,000 ships and referred nearly 300 suspicious vessels to the Lebanese authorities.

To date, 13 countries – Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Turkey – have contributed naval units to the force.

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