The Judges of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Blackstar, Esq,  MediaShack’s Legal Analyst, continues her coverage of the Lebanese Special Tribunal.

Naharnet and Al Mustaqbal report today that Justice Antonio Cassese, has  been appointed presiding judge of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.   Justice Cassese was the former presiding judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and one of the most eminent and published scholars of public international law.

Professor William Schabas’ blog speculated a few weeks ago that another former judge from the ICTY and the Amsterdam Court of Appeal, Justice Bert Swart would be appointed to the Tribunal, as well as Justice Howard Morrison.  Justice Morrison practiced as a defense lawyer for 9 years at the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and is now a UK Circuit judge.  He has the prestigious status of being a “QC”, or Queen’s Counsel.

The Tribunal is meant to have a total of  9 judges (or 11 including alternate judges):

  • one pre-trial judge (an international)
  • three trial judges (one Lebanese and two international)
  • five appellate judges (two Lebanese and three international)
  • plus two alternate judges (one Lebanese and one international).

On the prosecution side, the Chief Prosecutor is Daniel Bellemare (an international), but Lebanon is meant to appoint a Lebanese Deputy Prosecutor.  As it turns out, there’s a stalemate at the cabinet level about who to appoint.

We’ll have more on the appointments as events unfold.  Also Part II of the series “Why the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was Created” will be up in a few days.  It will look at the legal and political reasons behind the creation of the Tribunal.

4 Responses

  1. Blackstar, I wonder if you could talk a little about the legal defence that will be provided.

    You may be interested in an NGO I had some involvement with the International Criminal Defence Attorney’s Association (ICDAA). Their raison d’etre was to strengthen the defence of those accused before international courts and tribunals so as to add weight to the courts’ rulings.

    The argument is that if the accused are not properly defended, or appear to have improper defence, then not only will any ruling be questionable in law, but a court could be seen as little more than a show trial and those opposed to it will be vindicated in their opposition.

    Advocating for the defence of a war criminal, especially ones already judged guilty in the public eye is unpopular. Working for the ICDAA, however, I came across a quote from the chief prosecutor of the Nuremburg trials where he admonishes his prosecutorial team that the legal defence of the war criminals is paramount for the validity of the court; and that his colleagues should be prepared for some of those in the dock to be acquitted.

  2. Yes, I’m aware of ICDAA, and I also know they often struggle financially.

    The Tribunal will have a Defense Office which will be independent from the other organs (ie the Office of the Prosecutor, the CHambers and the Registry) and it will have a status equal to them. This is a major innovation as typically other internationalized tribunals have only had three official organs and have not included a Defense Office as a fourth independent and equal branch.

    The defendants who can afford it can hire a lawyer of their choice to represent them. For those who can’t, the Tribunal has a kind of “legal aid” program, with a list of pre-approved defence counsel it can appoint.

  3. […] announced the latest bench and defense nominations at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. We’d written a few weeks ago here at Media Shack about speculation that Antonio Cassese would be appointed […]

  4. Great site. Plenty of useful info here. I’m sending it to some buddies ans additionally sharing in delicious. And naturally, thanks to your effort!

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