Trial Chamber II of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) issued Monday an order scheduling a public hearing on 13 December 2019 at 10:00 A.M. (CET) to hear arguments from the Office of the Prosecutor and the Head of the Defense Office on initiating in absentia proceedings against Salim Ayyash over the Murr, Hawi and Hamadeh attacks, the STL said.
Trial Chamber II has also invited the Registrar to make submissions on his efforts to publicize the indictment and the service of the indictment on the Accused.
This step comes after the Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen seized Trial Chamber II, on 21 November 2019, to determine whether to initiate proceedings in absentia Ayyash, following the outstanding arrest warrant against him.
Trial Chamber II will have to determine whether the required conditions have been met in order to start the proceedings in absentia whilst preserving the rights of the Accused. It will issue a decision in this regard in due course based on the oral submissions it hears on December 13.
On 16 September 2019: The STL Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen lifted the confidentiality of his decision confirming an indictment against Ayyash. The indictment, dated 14 June 2019, alleges Ayyash is involved in the 1 October 2004 attack against Marwan Hamadeh, the 21 June 2005 attack against Georges Hawi and the 12 July 2005 attack against Elias Murr. These attacks were found to be “connected” to the 14 February 2005 attack that killed ex-PM Rafik Hariri. These attacks constitute a new case dubbed STL-18-10. Judge Fransen also made public the arrest warrants issued against Ayyash.
On 17 September 2019, the STL President Judge Ivana Hrdličková issued a statement calling the accused to surrender and to participate in the proceedings, informing him of his rights before the Tribunal and notifying the public of the new indictment.
On 24 September 2019, the President further ordered that the service of the indictment against Ayyash be effected in an alternative manner, including through public advertisement.
On 07 October 2019, the poster was published in five Lebanese newspapers.
On 08 October 2019, the STL released an audio-visual and audio public service announcement as well as a poster with the biographical information of Ayyash as part of the STL public advertisement campaign.
On 06 November 2019, the STL President issued an order convening the Trial Chamber II in the connected case STL-18-10.
On 21 November 2019, the STL Pre-Trial Judge requested Trial Chamber II to determine whether proceedings in absentia should be initiated in Connected Case STL-18-10.
On 29 November, STL Trial Chamber II unanimously elected Judge Nicola Lettieri as Presiding Judge for a term of 18 months.