BEIRUT: The U.N. Secretary-General renewed the mandate of the court trying the alleged assassins of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri for three additional years, his spokesperson announced Friday.
The extension means the Hague-based tribunal is now set to continue operations until March 2018.
A statement on the U.N. website said: “The Secretary-General reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to support the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to bring those responsible to justice and to ensure that impunity for such major crimes will not be tolerated. The United Nations looks forward to the continued support and cooperation of the Government of Lebanon.”
The STL is tasked with prosecuting those responsible for the Valentine’s Day 2005 bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others and plunged Lebanon into turmoil. Five members of Hezbollah have been indicted by the court, and their trial in absentia began in The Hague last January.
The extension was expected, as prosecutors have made it clear they will need months to lay out all of the complex telecommunications data they are relying on to implicate the suspects. After that, defense lawyers will likely need months to present their own case theories. Judges will also require time to deliberate before sentencing, and any appeals are expected to last at least six months.
The court may end up requiring an additional mandate extension if it decides to try the suspects in other attacks that occurred in Lebanon around the Hariri assassination.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 03, 2015, on page 1.