Skip to main content

Justice served: Lebanon’s Special Tribunal closes

The UN Secretary-General praised the hard work of judges and staff of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which closed on Sunday following efforts to try those responsible for a 2005 attack that killed 22 people, including former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and injured 226 people.

Established by Security Council resolution 1757 in 2007, the Special Tribunal’s jurisdiction also extended to other attacks that were judicially determined to be connected to the Beirut attack on 14 February 2005.

The assassination of Mr. Hariri involved explosives equivalent to 2,500 to 3,000 kilograms of dynamite, detonated as his motorcade travelled across downtown Beirut and left behind an 11-metre-wide crater.

Independent tribunal

Inaugurated in 2009, the independent tribunal was based in the outskirts of The Hague in the Netherlands and comprised Lebanese and international judges. It prosecuted suspects using Lebanese law, but was not part of Lebanon’s justice system nor was it a UN tribunal.

The Special Tribunal held proceedings in absentia and convicted Salim Jamil Ayyash in connection with the 2005 attack, sentencing him to five concurrent life sentences in 2020. In 2022, the tribunal reversed its initial acquittal of Hassan Habib Merhi and Hussein Hassan Oneissi, finding both guilty.

All three men remain at large.

2,641-page-long judgment

The trial record comprised the evidence of 297 witnesses and 3,135 exhibits, totalling more than 171,000 pages. To promote public access to the 2,641-page-long judgment, a summary was posted on the chamber’s website in Arabic, English and French.

The UN Secretary-General’s thoughts “continue to be with the victims and their families of the attack of 14 February 2005 and the connected attacks” that resulted from it, his spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said in a statement on Saturday night.

“The Secretary-General expresses his deep appreciation for the dedication and hard work of the judges and staff at the Special Tribunal throughout the years and for the support provided by the Government of Lebanon, the Government of the Netherlands as the host State, and the Member State donors,” he said.