STL Media Advisory
Trial Chamber II to hear arguments on in absentia proceedings in Connected Case STL-18-10
Leidschendam, 02 December 2019 –Trial Chamber II of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) issued today an order scheduling a public hearing on 13 December 2019 at 10:00 A.M. (CET) to hear arguments from the Office of the Prosecutor and the Head of the Defence Office on initiating in absentia proceedings in Connected Case STL-18-10. Trial Chamber II has also invited the Registrar to make submissions on his efforts to publicise the indictment and the service of the indictment on the Accused.
This step comes after the Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen seized Trial Chamber II, on 21 November 2019, to determine whether to initiate proceedings in absentia against the Accused Mr Salim Jamil Ayyash, following the outstanding arrest warrant against him.
Trial Chamber II will have to determine whether the required conditions have been met in order to start the proceedings in absentia whilst preserving the rights of the Accused. It will issue a decision in this regard in due course based on the oral submissions it hears on 13 December 2019.
Accreditation is required for all members of the media who wish to cover the hearing and to enter the Tribunal premises. Please fill out the accreditation form online no later than 10 December 2019 by 17:00 (CET). Please consult the Practical Information for Journalists below and on the STL website: https://www.stl-tsl.org/sites/default/files/documents/promo/STL_FAQ_2013_EN.pdf
On 16 September 2019: The STL Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen lifted the confidentiality of his decision confirming an indictment against Mr. Salim Jamil Ayyash. The indictment, dated 14 June 2019, alleges Mr. Ayyash is involved in the 1 October 2004 attack against Marwan Hamade, the 21 June 2005 attack against Georges Hawi and the 12 July 2005 attack against Elias El-Murr. These attacks were found to be “connected” to the 14 February 2005 attack. These attacks constitute a new case, STL-18-10. Judge Fransen also made public the arrest warrants issued against Mr Salim Jamil Ayyash.
On 17 September 2019, the STL President Judge Ivana Hrdličková issued a statement calling the accused to surrender and to participate in the proceedings, informing him of his rights before the Tribunal and notifying the public of the new indictment.
On 24 September 2019, the President further ordered that the service of the indictment against Mr. Salim Jamil Ayyash be effected in an alternative manner, including through public advertisement.
On 07 October 2019, the poster was published in five Lebanese newspapers.
On 08 October 2019, the STL released an audio-visual and audio public service announcement as well as a poster with the biographical information of the Accused Mr Salim Jamil Ayyash as part of the STL public advertisement campaign.
On 06 November 2019, STL President issued an order convening the Trial Chamber II in the connected case STL-18-10.
On 21 November 2019, the STL Pre-Trial Judge requested Trial Chamber II to determine whether proceedings in absentia should be initiated in Connected Case STL-18-10.
On 29 November, STL Trial Chamber II unanimously elected Judge Nicola Lettieri as Presiding Judge for a term of 18 months.
What is a Trial in absentia?
A trial in absentia is a trial without the presence of the accused.
In accordance with Lebanese law, the STL Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence allow for proceedings in absentia.
According to the Statute, proceedings in absentia may be instituted if the accused
• has expressly and in writing waived his/her right to be present;
• has not been handed over to the Tribunal by the State authorities concerned; or
• has absconded or cannot be found.
Proceedings will not be considered in absentia proceedings in situations where the accused is not physically present at the trial, but:
• initially appears in person (including by video-conference) and, although subsequently absent, is represented by counsel present at the proceedings.
What happens if the accused cannot be found?
If the accused cannot be found, the Trial Chamber may decide to try him/her in absentia.
Following “reasonable attempts” to locate the accused and serve the indictment, the President of the Tribunal can, after consulting the Pre-Trial Judge, decide to advertise the indictment, in part or in its entirety, in an effort to inform the accused of the need to appear before the Tribunal [Rule 76]. The advertisement shall invite any person with information as to the whereabouts of the accused to communicate that information to the Tribunal [Rule 76bis].
If within 30 calendar days following such an advertisement, the accused is not under the Tribunal’s authority, the Pre-Trial Judge shall ask the Trial Chamber to initiate proceedings in absentia, i.e., with the accused absent.
Before commencing proceedings in absentia, the Trial Chamber will consult with the President and ensure that the conditions for conducting in absentia proceedings set out in the Statute have been satisfied [Article 22 of the Statute, Rule 106]
Where an accused allegedly located in Lebanon cannot be found, the Lebanese authorities have a continuing obligation to search for, arrest and transfer him/her to the Tribunal [United Nations Security Council Resolution 1757, Article 15 of the Agreement between the United Nations and Lebanon]. The Lebanese Prosecutor General submits monthly reports to the Tribunal President on the efforts to search for, arrest and transfer the accused to the Tribunal’s custody.
If a trial does take place in absentia but an accused is located after a conviction or while the trial is still ongoing, that person would be entitled to request a new trial [Article 22 of the Statute, Rule 109]. The accused has other options: he/she can accept the judgment and/or sentence in writing; appeal both; or accept the conviction but ask for a new sentencing hearing.
Accreditation is required for all members of the media who wish to cover the hearing and to enter the Tribunal premises. Please fill out the accreditation form online no later than 10 December 2019 by 17:00 (CET).
Important Practical Information for journalists
In addition to registering online, members of the media must bring their passport, and press card or proof of employment. Please note that access to the Tribunal's press facilities may be denied to anyone without proper accreditation. The Tribunal reserves the right to refuse entry to any journalists at any stage in this process.
Accredited media representatives must use the public entrance to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon located on Dokter van der Stamstraat 1 in Leidschendam, and should arrive no later than 45 minutes before the start of a hearing.
The hearing can be followed on the STL website, at the external Satellite News Gathering (SNG) point, and in the Tribunal's Media Centre. The hearing can be followed in Arabic, English or French.
Photographs, Audio and Video Recording
Audio and video recording and the taking of photographs is strictly prohibited within the premises of the STL. Only officially accredited members of the press and media are permitted to use recording devices within designated areas; namely in the STL's Media Centre.
The Court's Media Centre will be open at 9:00 (CET) on days of hearings. It will be closed at 6:00 PM or one hour after the proceedings end, whichever is later.
The Media Centre is equipped with wireless Internet access and TV screens on which the hearing will be broadcast.
The Court will also provide a feed from the courtroom to the hot-desk area of the Media Centre. The tables in the Media Centre contain plugs for video and audio feeds from the courtroom (4:3, PAL, Standard Definition): BNC video output and XLR audio output. You can record from four possible audio channels: 1 - floor, 2 – French, 3 – English, 4 – Arabic. Each table contains audio and video sockets and power plugs using European sockets with 230 Volts AC. Please note that the Tribunal does not provide computers, fax machines or external phone connections.
Feed for the Satellite News Gathering Trucks
An outside hook-up point will be provided to allow SNG equipment to be connected. Feeds will be available in 4:3, PAL, Standard Definition, SDI, and composite. Connections will be BNC video output and XLR audio output with four possible audio channels: 1 - floor, 2 – French, 3 – English, 4 – Arabic. Please note that there is no power supply available. There is also no audio/video connectivity between the press briefing room and the outside hook-up point.