Hariri Tribunal first to try terrorism
The Hague - The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which on Thursday issued arrest warrants in connection with the death of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, is the first international tribunal with jurisdiction over the crime of terrorism.
Opening its doors in The Hague on March 1 2009, the STL was created by a 2007 UN Security Council resolution, at Lebanon's request, to try those responsible for Hariri's February 2005 assassination in a car bombing that also killed 22 other people.
The court has opted for a hybrid of the adversarial process used by other international courts, in which the prosecution and defence each present their own evidence; and the Lebanese inquisitorial system in which victims can play a significant role in the proceedings.
Trials in absentia are allowed.
Based far away from the scene of the crime for security reasons, the SLT can impose a maximum sentence of life imprisonment - not the death penalty or forced labour as under Lebanese law.
Known colloquially as the Hariri Tribunal, the court's president is Antonio Cassese of Italy, a former president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
The court has one pre-trial judge who can confirm indictments and issue arrest warrants, three trial judges, five appeals judges and two alternate judges. Four of the judges are Lebanese.
The prosecutor is Canadian Daniel Bellemare, who also leads the independent investigation into the Hariri attack. Appointed by the UN secretary general, he is assisted by a Lebanese deputy prosecutor.
The STL is the first international court to have a defence office charged with protecting the rights of accused persons. Headed by French advocate Francois Roux, the office has compiled a list of 94 lawyers from around the world to represent the accused on legal aid.
The tribunal, one of five international courts in The Hague, is based in the remote suburb of Leidschendam in the fortress-like former headquarters of the Dutch intelligence service.
It employs more than 300 people from 62 countries, and has a budget of €49.4m for 2011 - 49% covered by Lebanon and the rest by voluntary contributions from other countries.
No date has been set for its first trial.