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Monday, June 11, 2007 Lebanon panel nominating judges for Hariri tribunal

Lebanon’s Supreme Judicial Council convened Monday to discuss the nomination of 12 Lebanese judges to be considered by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for appointment to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon , established under UN Security Council Resolution 1757 [PDF text] to investigate and try suspects in the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri . The tribunal will include four Lebanese judges, one of whom will serve in the trial chamber with two international judges, two in the appellate chamber with three international judges, and a single judge will be reserved as an alternate. Ban will select the four Lebanese judges from the list submitted by the Supreme Judicial Council, which is normally responsible for judicial appointments, disciplinary actions, and other personnel decisions. Other details surrounding the tribunal, including where the court will be located and where suspects will be detained, remain unresolved.

Lebanese National Assembly speaker Nabih Berri has criticized the Security Council’s unilateral establishment of the Hariri tribunal as an infringement of Lebanese sovereignty and an impediment of the reconciliation process in Lebanon . The resolution circumvented the Lebanese National Assembly at the request of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora [BBC profile] after Siniora said that “all possible means” to ratify a UN tribunal proposal in the National Assembly had failed. The controversial proposal, also opposed by pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud , has been a source of major disagreement in Lebanon’s deeply sectarian political arena. The Lebanese cabinet approved a draft plan for the tribunal last November despite the resignation of all pro-Syrian cabinet members from the militant Hezbollah and Amal Movement [party website, in Arabic]. Reports from a UN commission probing Hariri’s death have implicated Syrian officials in the assassination and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that Syria will reject “any cooperation requested from Syria that compromises national sovereignty.”