Feltman to Choose Lebanese Judges, Manupaltion of Justice
Wikileaks cables show more cooperation between the International Tribunal and "March 14" group pillars.
It is no longer a secret, especially after evidences presented by the Secretary General of Hizbullah His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, that the politicization scandalous for the International Tribunal for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri goes parallel to the close cooperation between the tribunal and "March 14" group.
Wednesday Wikileaks cables published by "al-Akhbar" newspaper shows how the Lebanese government headed by Fouad Siniora at that time, and former Justice Minister Charles Rizk nominated the four judges who will represent Lebanon at the STL.
The documents, referred to the role of the former Ministers of Justice Charles Rizk and Ibrahim Najar in the arbitrary detention of four officers because of the fears of the results that their release will cause.
The four Officers Issue: Manipulation of Justice
In 2006, as the arrest of the four officers was still considered by some Lebanese parties a sacred matter, the diplomacy corridors and the headquarters of the international investigation committee saw it as a large legal loophole, stressing that "the arrest was not based on evidence."
However, the officers remained in prison until 2009.
A US report issued by U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman said that "the President of the International Independent Investigation Commission is deeply concerned that the evidence on which the four officers were arrested may not be sufficient to justify continued detention."
"The release of the officers would have a seismic impact on the political scene in Lebanon."
(Telegram No. 06BEIRUT2034). That was in 2006, but the four officers were released only after about 3 years (2009).
International Concern of as-Sayed:
Special Coordinator of the United Nations in Lebanon, Michael Williams, disclosed to the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Hale on 9 May 2009 that "he recommends that the President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Judge Antonio Cassese to postpone his trip to Lebanon assumed in mid-May, to avoid the sensitivities of the election season."
Williams expressed his concern about the impact of the resignation of the Registrar Robin Vincent because of his disastrous relation with Attorney General Daniel Bellemare on the progress of the tribunal's work. (Telegram No. 09BEIRUT541 Date 05/14/2009).
As for the release of the four officers, Williams said, according to the text of the message itself that "it was supposed to happen in March 2008 to reduce the negative impact on "March 14" because of the release's nearness to the election date."
Attorney General of the International Tribunal told the U.S. ambassador in Beirut, Michel Sison, January 26, 2009, that "he suspects that the Lebanese Prosecutor General Saeed Mirza wants to refer the four officers to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in Hague."
Moreover, Bellemare expressed concern about the possibility that the former Director General of Public Security, Major General Jamil Sayyed runs for the parliamentary elections, an idea supported by the opposition leader Suleiman Franjieh and Hizbullah (No. 09BEIRUT109 Date 27 / 1 / 2009)
Removing the detention of four officers was preceded; it seems, by tension in the ranks of "March 14" forces and their backers.
Jumblatt Attacks Lebanese Judges
The leader Walid Jumblatt informed the US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch in the presence of Ambassador Sison about that tension: "he spoke about concern of the lack of required progress in the work of the International Tribunal,"
He also expressed "his fear of the campaign, Hizbullah and Syria are launching for the release of the four officers who had been arrested in 2005 for their association with Hariri's assassination." (Telegram No. 08BEIRUT548 date 22/04/2008).
Jumblatt strongly criticized the inefficiency of the Public Prosecutor Saeed Mirza describing him "as a weak man who does not deserve his position."
"The Lebanese judges are weak, and do not dare to face."
He warned that "the release of one or two officers, will affect the credibility of the tribunal," adding that "the Russians may play an ineffective role in the UN Security Council."
In response to Hamada comments that Canadian ambassador assured to him that the President of the International Commission of Inquiry, Daniel Bellemare, has an excellent background, Jumblatt said: "This is what they told us about Brammertz."
As the international pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen ordered the Lebanese judiciary to unzip the detention of four officers, the minister Najar met with Ambassador Sison (telegram No. 09BEIRUT500 Date 5/5/2009) "he was tense after the release of the generals on how the political opposition will handle this. But it is now believed that the opposition wants calm before the June 7 parliamentary elections."
The text of the telegram adds that the Najar " was interested in the actions of former Director General of General Security Jamil Sayyed, one of those released, who works with Syria two dolls former Minister and MP Michel Samaha and former MP Nasser Kandil.
He expected that close people to as-Sayyed will continue attacks on Attorney General, Judge Saed Mirza and Investigating Judge Saqr Saqr.
Najar informed Sison "that the opposition criticism will focus on the two judges Mirza, Sakr, not the judiciary itself. He stressed that Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who aren't in good relationship with as-Sayyed, will strengthen judges strongly. But Najar viewed that Sakr's might be obliged to step down," stressing that "this cannot happen immediately."
King Witness Smuggling?!
As for the witness, Mohammed Zuhair Siddik, whom the Lebanese judiciary based on his testimony to prison the officers after considering him the "king witness"; he was the focus of discussions between the Minister of Justice Ibrahim Najjar and the U.S. Ambassador Sison during their meeting on April 22, 2009 (Document No. 09BEIRUT463 Date 03/24/2009).
"Najar cautiously pointed out that Arab Emirates has not officially confirmed the arrest of former Syrian intelligence officer, Mohammed Zuhair Siddiq on 18 who is wanted in Lebanon for his connection with the assassination of Hariri. Najar concluded that the UAE does not deal officially with the issue until now and thus it is not ready to deal with the request of both Lebanon and Syria to hand him over. Najar confirmed that "Lebanon would not press toward Siddiq's extradition only if the court ordered it to do so."
As for the memorandum of understanding between the Lebanese government and the Prosecutor of the International Tribunal, which had been presented to the government, the former Minister of Justice said that "Bellemare assistant called him to inquire on the status of the memorandum, Najar said that "President Suleiman and Prime Minister Siniora wanted to prevent the discussion of the subject; because it has raised objections from Hizbullah's minister Mohammed Fneish who asked Najar to stop raising this issue in the media."
Francine on Another Planet
Telegram No. 09BEIRUT500 Date 5/5/2009)
Without being asked, Najar complained about the Prosecutor Bellemare, saying he acted without paying attention to the feelings of the Lebanese, and also complained about the Pre -judge Daniel Francine by saying " he is young and on another planet."
When asked about the reasons for his criticism, as Bellemare's and Francine's actions for the release of the officers were not surprising, Najar criticized the quality of the written decision of Francine, and said that Bellemare and others in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon fear Hizbullah.
Ambassador Sison commented at the end of the telegram: "We will continue to monitor reactions on the release of the officers. Saad Hariri was frustrated during the debate between him and the Ambassador on May 4, but he felt that the comments of Sayyed to the media will withhold sympathy with the four officers. Leader in the March 14 Forces, Samir Geagea, did not expect a serious political reaction. Aoun said in a statement issued on 4 May that he decided to withdraw support for the tribunal, but added that Aoun and his colleagues in the opposition do not want a security breach that may adversely affect the election."
Ambassador Sison comments: "The hatred between the head of the Amal movement, Nabih Berri, and Major General Jamil al-Sayyed took part of the debate. In spite of that the lists of candidates for the parliamentary elections are currently closed, there is talk that Hizbullah may wait until after the elections of June to make a winning candidate to resign, and then move on to (probably in Baalbek-Hermel) elect as-Sayyed.
Amal Movement MP, Yassin Jaber, pointed to this rumor in a conversation between the ambassador and him them took place on 4 May mentioning that "everyone is talking about the intention of as-Sayyed to take over the role of House Speaker Berri."
According to a telegram (No. 06BEIRUT2034 issued on 06.20.2006), as-Sayyed's lawyer Akram Azouri told officials at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut on June 16, 2006 that "as as-Sayed's lawyer, he would soon meet Prime Minister Fouad Siniora ,the leader of the Future Movement Saad Hariri, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, and leader of the Phalange Party Amin Gemayel to make a proposal. The offer is that the General leaves the within 24 hours after his release immediately. The alleged motive for accepting this offer is that they will get rid of as-Sayyed instead of being released due to lack of evidences, and thus his pro-Syrian friends will act in hostility."
Feltman to Choose judges
Concerning the delivery of the Lebanese government for the names of judges to the International Tribunal to the United Nations, cable 07BEIRUT963 issued on June 28, 2007 shows that Justice Minister Charles Rizk, delivered a list containing the names of 12 judges that the Lebanese government intends to nominate to the United Nations, to choose four of them for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
He said that the twelve judges have agreed in advance on their candidacy and that the Lebanese government prefers four of them on others. Rizk named the four judges on the list handed over to the ambassador. Also, the Lebanese government will secretly inform UN Legal Counsel Nicolas Michel of their names. Among the judges, a Sunni judge, Christian, Catholic and Orthodox.
Rizk delivered to the ambassador the two names that the Lebanese government nominated as Deputy Prosecutor, without preferring one over the other to the United Nations, one is a Sunni candidate and the other is a Christian. If United Nations didn't achieve a sectarian balance between the judges, they can rectify the situation by the position of Deputy Prosecutor..
According to the telegram, it was reported that the two lists Rizk will be delivered to Prime Minister Siniora, who is outside the country and is expected to approve both when he returns, before sending them to the United Nations.
You can find below the names of the candidates: (Note: top secret. These people are threatened by murder for agreeing to fill the positions of STL judges.
Four favorite judges:
Mr. Ralph Riachi
Mr. Shukri Sader
Mr. Akram Baasiri
Mr. Saad Jabbour
Remaining eight candidates are:
Mr. Afif Shamseddin
Mr. Sameer Alieh
Mr. Joseph Meamari
Mr. Nadeem Abed al-Malik
Mr. Tannous Mshleb
Ms. Micheline Brayde
Mr. Ali Ibrahim
Candidates for the post of Deputy Attorney General are:
Jocelyn Tabet (Maronite)
Ghassan Oweidat (Sunni)
Comment: While the Lebanese didn't rush to complete the list as Rizk promised Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Silverberg, at the beginning of June, it is positive that the Supreme Judicial Council has submitted nominations for judges, and Rizk in turn delivered those related to the Deputy Prosecutor. Upon the return of Prime Minister Siniora from abroad, we urge that these lists to be sent to New York as soon as possible, as the field is open for us to do so. With regard to judges, it seems that the choice of Ralph Riachi and Shukri Sader is guarnteed by the United Nations.
According to all reports we received, each of them built a strong relationship with the legal advisers of the United Nations, Nicolas Michel, during the negotiations on the Statute of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. We do not know the others mentioned in the list, but Rizk assured us they were of a very good reputation. As for the candidates for the post of Deputy Attorney General, each of Oweidat and Tabet has a respected reputation in the legal circles. We point out that Tabet is personally close to the Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Elias Murr, (of course, he is one of the victims of assassination attempts who survived a car bombing in the July 12, 2005.)
Supplement Comment: As noted above, it is important to maintain the confidentiality of the names, to prevent the exposure of candidates for any security risk. We hope that Riachi and Sader continue their discreet as the nominations come in the framework of "common assumptions". On the miserable security situation in Lebanon, Riachi told us time ago that as a celibate and without any children or relatives in Lebanon, he is easily dispensed unlike most judges who are committed to their families.
Riachi concludes to say that "he is an easy target to the risks associated with the tribunal."
Source: "al-Akhbar" newspaper