1 October 2004 Attack
On 1 October 2004, a car explosion targeted the motorcade of Mr Marwan Hamadeh (a Lebanese politician and journalist) in Beirut. Mr Hamadeh and his driver were injured, and his bodyguard was killed.
14 February 2005
At 12:55 p.m. on 14 February 2005, Rafik Hariri, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, was assassinated in a large explosion that killed 21 others and injured 226 more people near the St. George Hotel in downtown Beirut. The blast, allegedly from a powerful suicide bomb hidden in a large van, left a crater at least ten metres wide and two metres deep in the street. That same day, it is alleged that a Beirut news network received a video and letter in which a man named Ahmad Abu Adass claimed to be the suicide bomber on behalf of a fictional fundamentalist group called Victory and Jihad in Greater Syria. (The Prosecution alleges that this claim of responsibility was false.) The attack was swiftly condemned by world leaders and then-United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who “condemn[ed] in the strongest terms those who instigated, planned and executed this callous political assassination.”
On 15 February 2005, the United Nations (UN) Security Council issued a statement on the attack, unequivocally condemning the bombing and “call[ing] on the Lebanese Government to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of this heinous terrorist act, and noting the Lebanese Government’s commitments in this regard. The Council urges all States, in accordance with its resolutions 1566 (2004) and 1373 (2001), to cooperate fully in the fight against terrorism.” It requested the UN Secretary-General “follow closely the situation in Lebanon and to report urgently on the circumstances, causes and consequences of this terrorist act.”
A fact-finding mission dispatched by the United Nations Secretary-General and led by Irish Deputy Police Commissioner Peter FitzGerald began its investigation in Beirut on 25 February 2005. The group was tasked to enquire into the causes, circumstances and consequences of the attack.
The UN fact-finding mission delivered its report on 24 March 2005, recommending an independent international investigation into the attack.
Lebanon confirmed via a 29 March 2005 letter that it would fully cooperate with the investigation commission.
On 7 April 2005, UN Security Council resolution 1595 (2005) established the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC). The purpose of the commission was to gather evidence and to assist the Lebanese authorities in their investigation of the attack of 14 February 2005.
21 June 2005 Attack
12 July 2005 Attack
On 12 July 2005, an explosive device targeted the convoy of Mr Elias El-Murr (a Lebanese politician) in Antelias. One person was killed, and Mr El-Murr and eleven others injured.
Request for a Tribunal
Following a series of killings and bombings in Lebanon, on 13 December 2005 the Lebanese government requested that the UN create a tribunal of an "international character" to try all those responsible for the 14 February 2005 attack and to expand the UNIIIC’s mandate to investigate assassinations, assassination attempts, and explosions from 1 October 2004.
The UN Security Council responded to Lebanon’s request by adopting resolution 1644 (2005) on 15 December 2005. The Security Council reaffirmed its condemnation of the 14 February 2005 attack and requested the Secretary-General to help the Lebanese government identify the assistance needed to try those eventually charged with perpetrating the attack.
On 29 March 2006, through Security Council resolution 1664 (2006), the Security Council requested the United Nations Secretary-General consult with the Lebanese government on the establishment of an international tribunal to try those responsible for the 14 February 2005 attack.
Agreement between Lebanon and the United Nations on the Special Tribunal
The UN Secretary-General submitted his report on negotiations between the UN and the Lebanese government on the establishment of a special tribunal to the Security Council on 15 November 2006.
The President of the Security Council responded to the Secretary-General on 24 November 2006, requesting that he “proceed, together with the Government of Lebanon, in conformity with the Constitution of Lebanon, with the final steps for the conclusion of the Agreement” for the establishment of a special tribunal.
The Lebanese government and United Nations signed an agreement for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on 23 January 2007 and 6 February 2007 respectively. The Agreement was subsequently sent to the Lebanese Parliament for ratification. However, the Speaker did not convene Parliament to vote on it.
On 4 April 2007, a majority of Members of the Lebanese Parliament sent a memorandum to the UN Secretary-General calling for a Security Council resolution under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter to establish a special tribunal.
On 14 May 2007, the Lebanese Prime Minister requested that the United Nations Secretary-General put the issue of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon before the Security Council “as a matter of urgency.”
Formal Establishment of the Special Tribunal
The United Nations Security Council authorized the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on 30 May 2007, adopting Resolution 1757 (2007) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. The resolution stated the provisions of the Agreement between Lebanon and the United Nations (annexed to the resolution) would come into force on 10 June 2007, unless Lebanon notified the United Nations that legal requirements for its entry into force had been complied with before then. The provisions of the Agreement therefore came into force on 10 June 2007.
On 17 August 2007, the UN Secretary-General announced that the Netherlands had agreed to host the Tribunal.
The Tribunal’s Management Committee, consisting of Lebanon and other major donor states, was established on 13 February 2008. The Management Committee provides advice and policy direction on all non-judicial aspects of the operations of the Special Tribunal and reviews and approves its annual budget. It is not involved in the judicial process.
End of International Investigation
On 28 March 2008, the tenth report of the UNIIIC was submitted to the Security Council. Commissioner Mr Daniel Bellemare confirmed “that a network of individuals acted in concert to carry out the assassination of Rafiq Hariri,” that this network was linked to other cases the UNIIIC was investigating under its expanded mandate, and that the network continued to operate after the assassination.
The UNIIIC’s mandate ended on 28 February 2009.
Early Stages of the Special Tribunal
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon opened in Leidschendam (near The Hague) on 1 March 2009. Jurisdiction was transferred from the UNIIIC to the Special Tribunal (an independent and separate judicial organization, not a UN court). The information gathered during the UNIIIC’s investigation was given to the Office of the Prosecutor.
On 27 March 2009, the Special Tribunal’s Pre-Trial Judge directed Lebanese judicial authority to defer to the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, provide court records and results of investigations related to the 14 February 2005 attack to the Prosecutor and provide a list of all persons Lebanon had detained in connection with the investigation.
In one of the first acts of the Special Tribunal, the Pre-Trial Judge determined that there was no cause to hold the four Lebanese generals who had been detained by the Lebanese authorities in connection with the Hariri investigation, and ordered their immediate release on 29 April 2009.
Cases and Trial Activity
Pursuant to a confidential 5 August 2011 decision by the Pre-Trial Judge, the Special Tribunal took jurisdiction over three cases that were found to be connected to the 14 February 2005 attack: the targeted attacks on Lebanese politicians Marwan Hamadeh, George Hawi, and Elias El-Murr on. These cases remain under investigation.
The main trial at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Ayyash et al.(related to the 14 February 2005 attack), began on 16 January 2014. Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra are charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, along with a number of other related charges. The trial is ongoing.
The Special Tribunal charged two individuals and two media companies with contempt, in relation to reports about alleged confidential witnesses in the Ayyash et al.case, on 31 January 2014. Ms Karma Khayat and Al Jadeed S.A.L. were ultimately acquitted on 8 March 2016. Mr Al Amin and Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. were both found guilty of one count on 15 July 2016 and sentenced to fines. This was the first time a company was convicted at an international tribunal.