Part 3: drone videos expose Israel’s involvement
In more prosaic terms, the Tribunal is shirking its responsibilities. On the one hand, it must judge the false witnesses to thwart further manipulations and to make plain its impartiality; on the other hand it refuses to undertake a "clean-up" operation which might force it to arrest Prosecutor Mehlis. However, Odnako’s revelations on the German lead render this posture untenable. All the more since it’s already too late: General Jamil Sayyed filed a complaint in Syria and a Syrian examining magistrate has already indicted Detlev Mehlis, Commissioner Gerhard Lehmann plus the five false witnesses. One can imagine the commotion at the Tribunal should Syria decide to call on Interpol to have them arrested. Just as the Mehlis commission was supposed to compensate for the lack of professionalism on the part of the Lebanese forces of law and order, the Tribunal should equally have ensured the impartiality that the Lebanese courts may have been short of. But things are far off target, which raises the question of the Tribunal’s legitimacy.
Kofi Annan didn’t want the Lebanon Tribunal to exert international jurisdiction, but to function as a national Lebanese tribunal with an international character. It would have been subjected to Lebanese law while half of its members would have been nationals of other countries. The plan did not materialize because the negotiations came to a sudden end. More precisely, an agreement was reached with the Lebanese government presided at the time by Fouad Siniora, the former authorized representative of the Hariri estate, but it was never ratified either by Parliament or by the president of the Republic. Hence, the agreement was endorsed unilaterally by the UN Security Council (Resolution 1757 of 30 May 2007). The end result is a hybrid and fragile entity.
As pointed out by Kofi Annan, this Tribunal is not analogous to any other so far created within the purview of the United Nations. "It is neither a subsidiary organ of the UN, nor a component of the Lebanese judiciary system"; it is simply "a conventional organ" sitting between the executive authority of the Lebanese government and the UN. Judging by the international rule of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary, the Tribunal cannot be regarded as a genuine tribunal, but rather as a joint disciplinary commission within the executive frameworks of the UN and the Lebanese Government. Whatever decision it may make will inevitably be coated with suspicion. Worse still, any Lebanese government can terminate it since - not having been ratified - the related agreement was binding only on the previous government. As a result, the present Lebanese coalition government has become a battlefield between partisans and foes of the Tribunal. In an attempt to maintain governmental stability, week after week Lebanese President Michel Sleimane has been dissuading the Council of Ministers from taking a vote on any issue linked with the Tribunal. This embargo cannot hold out forever.
According to the President of the Special Tribunal
for Lebanon, Antonio Cassese, the armed resistance
in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan should
be tried for "terrorism".
Worst of all, Judge Cassesse personifies an interpretation of international law that causes division in the Middle East. Although his official curriculum vitae obscures it, he took part in the 2005 negotiations between member states of the European Union and those bordering the Mediterranean Sea ("Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean"). His definition of terrorism blocked the discussions. According to him, terrorism is exclusively the act of individuals or private groups, never states. It follows that a struggle against an occupying army would not be considered as "resistance" but as "terrorism". In the local context, this juridical view is consistent with a colonial framework and disqualifies the Tribunal.
The methods of the Special Tribunal do not differ from those applied by the Mehlis Commission. Tribunal investigators collected mass files on Lebanese students, social security recipients and subscribers of public utility services. On 27 October, in the absence of the Lebanese judges, they even tried to snatch medical records from a gynaecological clinic frequented by the wives of Hezbollah members. It is obvious that these probes have no link whatsoever with the Rafik Hariri assassination. Everything leads the Lebanese to believe that the information is actually earmarked for Israel, of which, in their eyes, the TSL is merely an offshoot.
All these problems had clearly been foreseen by President Putin when, in 2007, he had vainly made a pitch for a different wording of the Tribunal founding resolution. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin had denounced the "juridical loopholes" of the system. He deplored that the Security Council should threaten to resort to force (Chapter VII) to achieve unilaterally the creation of this "conventional organ". He had emphasised that while the Tribunal should be working towards the reconciliation of the Lebanese people, it was devised in such a way as to divide them even more. Finally, Russia - as China - refused to endorse Resolution 1757.
The truth ultimately seeps through. The Israeli drone videos released by the Hezbollah expose Israel’s involvement in the crime preparations. The facts revealed by Odnako point to the use of a sophisticated German weapon. The puzzle is nearly complete.
French journalist Thierry Meyssan is a political analyst, founder and chairman of the Voltaire Network and the Axis for Peace conference. He publishes columns dealing with international relations in newspapers and magazines in Arabic, Spanish and Russian. Last books published in English: “9/11 the Big Lie” and “Pentagate.”