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Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. & Mr Al Amin (STL-14-06)

In January 2013, Akhbar Beirut published articles on its Arabic and English websites and in its newspaper which contained information about alleged confidential witnesses in the Ayyash et al. case.  The first article, “STL Leaks:  The Prosecution’s Surprise Witnesses,” was published on 15 January in Al Akhbar newspaper and on both language versions of its website.  On 19 January, Al Akhbar’s print edition and Arabic website ran an article entitled “The STL Witness List:  Why We Published,” which was published in an edited version on its English website the following day.

On 31 January 2014, Mr Ibrahim Al Amin and Akhbar Beirut were each charged with one count of contempt and obstruction of justice pursuant to Rule 60 bis of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence (“knowingly and wilfully interfering with the administration of justice by publishing information on purported confidential witnesses in the Ayyash et al. case, thereby undermining public confidence in the Tribunal's ability to protect the confidentiality of information about, or provided, by witnesses or potential witnesses”).  On 29 May 2014, Mr Al Amin appeared via video-conference on behalf of himself and Akhbar Beirut and read a statement, but did not enter a plea.  The Contempt Judge interpreted the statement, as well as Mr Al Amin’s decision to leave the hearing, as a plea of not guilty, and ordered the Defence Office to appoint counsel for the accused.  (Written reasons were issued on 5 June 2014.)  The Head of the Defence Office appointed counsel to represent both Accused on 30 June 2014.

The Defence challenged the Tribunal’s jurisdiction on 18 August 2014.  On 6 November 2014, the Contempt Judge found that the Tribunal lacked jurisdiction over legal persons (i.e., the corporate media entity Akhbar Beirut).  An Appeals Panel overturned this decision on 23 January 2015, finding that the case could proceed against Akhbar Beirut.

The amicus Prosecutor filed his pre-trial brief on 5 March 2015.  The Defence filed its pre-trial brief on 30 March 2015.

The Trial began on 24 February 2016 with opening statements from the amicus Prosecutor and Defence.  The amicus Prosecutor presented his case on 24-26 and 29 February and 1 March 2016.  The Defence presented its case on 7-8 April 2016.

The amicusProsecutor and Defence filed their final trial briefs on 28 April 2016.

Closing arguments took place on 13 May 2016.

The Contempt Judge rendered his judgment on 15 July 2016.  Both Accused were found guilty of the sole count in the order in lieu of an indictment.  On 29 August 2016, Mr Al Amin was sentenced to a €20,000 fine and Akhbar Beirut to a €6,000 fine. Neither of the convicted parties appealed the Contempt Judge's decisions as to the verdict or sentence. The judgments are therefore final.

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