Thursday, 30 September 2010

Ninth Resignation Puts STL In Suspicion Circle

Hamzeh Haj Hassan/ Translated


Who is next?

This question becomes valid with every resignation of officials in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) during a period of no more than a year and a half.

The latest resignation was that of Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare's spokesperson Henrietta Aswad, the ninth such resignation. Twenty days earlier, Bellemare appointed her as his new official spokesperson and praised her strategic achievements in the fields of administration and development. Back then, Bellemare was happy to welcome Aswad in his team.

Today, the general prosecutor expressed regret over the resignation which he attributed to “unforeseen and personal reasons,” according to a statement posted on the STL Website.

Aswad’s predecessor, Radiya Ashouri, resigned from her post in May.

Successive resignations from the STL started with a setback by the British Registrar Judge Robin Vincent in 21st April 2009, followed by the resignation of one the most prominent judges Howard Morrison, then her spokesman Suzanne Khan, chief of Investigation Naguib Kaldas, Registrar of the STL David Tolbert, Ashouri, then Bellemare’s legal assistant Bernard Cote, and STL Chief of public affairs Peter Foster.
The reason behind Aswad’s resignation is still not clear.

The STL is under fire by the opposition in Lebanon that has been accusing it of politicizing the Rafiq Hariri murder case. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Syrian FM Walid Muallem on Wednesday described the tribunal as irredeemably "politicized" and that Damascus has received word that members of Hezbollah were soon to be formally charged with the murder. He said that such developments risked plunging Lebanon into a new round of sectarian strife and that the U.N.'s investigation should be replaced by a purely Lebanese investigation to ensure fair treatment.

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