On 13 December 2005, the Government of the Republic of Lebanon requested the United Nations to establish a tribunal of an international character to try all those who are alleged responsible for the attack of 14 February 2005 in Beirut that killed the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others. Pursuant to Security Council resolution 1664 (2006), the United Nations and the Lebanese Republic negotiated an agreement on the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Further to Security Council resolution 1757(2007) of 30 May 2007, the provisions of the document annexed to it and the Statute of the Special Tribunal there to attached, entered into force on 10 June 2007. The tribunal has indicted no one since it was set up. Last year it ordered the release of four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals jailed for four years without charge. Lebanese authorities had detained them at the request of a former U.N. investigator in 2005.
Hariri was a known critic of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, and initial findings by UN investigators pointed to Syrian involvement in his assassination - something Syria has always denied. Hariri's killing caused such uproar in Lebanon that Syria was forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon in 2005 after three decades of military presence there.
Hezbollah, a Shi'ite guerrilla movement and a powerful player in Lebanese politics, has often questioned the tribunal's integrity and neutrality, saying its work had been tainted by false witnesses and reliance on telephone records that Israeli spies arrested in Lebanon could have manipulated.
This month Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah assailed the court, which is based in The Hague, as an "Israeli project" after saying he had received word that it planned to indict members of his group in connection with Hariri's killing.
The dramatic arrival of the Saudi and Syrian leaders suggests that they may seek to pressure the various Lebanese factions to strike a deal to preserve the country's stability without undermining the credibility of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
Books and articles in Peace Palace Library:
About Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Relevant external links:
- Background documents Special Tribunal for Lebanon
- Wikipedia Special Tribunal for Lebanon
- New York Times Topic on Hezbollah
- Reuters document on Lebanon crisis
- Hezbollah in Libanon - Achtergrond
Relevant press articles:
NRC International : Hezbollah linked to Hariri killing (25 May 2009)
The Daily Star : Nasrallah calls Tribunal 'Israeli project' (17 July 2010)
The Times of India : Saudi Arabian, Syrian leaders head to Lebanon amid tension (30 July 2010)