Mandate of UN tribunal for Lebanon expires

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Photo: Atlantic Council

Today marked the original expiration date of the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).

However, the mandate was extended after the STL’s president, Judge Ivana Hrdličková, informed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that its work would not be finished by February 28. Guterres subsequently extended the mandate by two years from March 1.

Convened to try those accused of the 2005 bombing that killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others, the tribunal has since expanded to try suspects in 14 other killings during the same period.

After Hezbollah member Salim Ayyash was sentenced in absentia to five life sentences for his role in Hariri’s assassination, expect the tribunal to use its extension to focus on the trials of those accused in the other 14 killings. Ayyash is accused in these cases and is likely to be convicted of having a similar role, though he is unlikely to face justice. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has denounced the tribunal and vowed to prevent the arrest of Hezbollah members. Despite this, if more Hezbollah members are convicted, the highly influential militia will likely face political blowback and may struggle to hold on to its 12 parliamentary seats at the 2022 Lebanese elections.

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