BEIRUT: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is set to hear closing arguments from the parties and participating victims in the weeks of Monday 3 to Friday 14 September 2018, with the Prosecution currently presenting its evidence.
The prosecution based its case on three components, the forensic evidence on the cause of the explosion of February 14, 2005 and evidence related to the death and injury of the victims of this attack, the evidence of the preparatory acts undertaken by the accused and their co-conspirators in 2004-2005 to prepare for the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri; and the evidence concerning the identity of the Accused and their respective roles in the attack which is still in progress.
The Trial Chamber's spokesperson, Wajed Ramadan, told Annahar that the examination period, presided by Judge David Re, is expected to "last for months."
A decision is expected to be reached in 2019, she says, 14 years after the assassination of Hariri which killed 21 others, and injured 226 more.
The accused currently facing trial in absentia are Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra. They are charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, along with a number of other related charges.
Touching on the defendants' legal framework, Ramadan said that "they will be acquitted if their defense teams succeed in finding reasonable doubt in the evidence."
The Trial Chamber decided to hold the trial in absentia after the accused absconded and elected not wish to participate in the trial. Their whereabouts are still unknown.
In March, judges at the UN-backed tribunal in The Hague set up to investigate the bombing said that it was a terrorist act, adding that evidence presented by prosecutors "could" lead to the convictions of the four suspects which paved the way for their defense teams to submit their evidence.
Defense lawyers for Oneissi had sought an early acquittal arguing that evidence against him was circumstantial, yet that was dismissed by the court.
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