— Defense lawyers before a UN-backed court probing former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri’s murder sought Wednesday to have the tribunal’s creation declared illegal and unfit to judge their clients.
Lawyers for Salim Ayyash — one of four men wanted for trial in connection with Hariri’s car bomb death in 2005 — asked “the trial chamber to find that the establishment of the court was not legal.”
“As a result, the trial chamber does not have the jurisdiction to hear the indictment brought against Ayyash and his co-accused,” they said in papers filed before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).
The Hague-based court in early February said it would put Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badreddine, Hussein Anaissi and Assad Sabra on trial for Hariri’s death and arrest warrants have been issued for the four — but they remain at large.
Lawyers for Badreddine, Anaissi and Sabra have filed similar documents, a source close to the case, who asked not to be named, told newsmen.
Lawyers for Badreddine, described as the “brains behind the operation” that killed the billionaire politician and 22 others including a suicide bomber on Feb. 14, 2005 said they doubted the court’s ability to try their client. “Having been established in an illegitimate and unconstitutional (manner)... the STL cannot give the accused a fair trial,” they said in a statement. — AFP