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Special Tribunal for Lebanon appoints new President

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Judge Antonio Cassese has resigned as a member and President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. In a statement, he justified his decision on health grounds. In fact, the situation had become untenable ever since our revelations on his previous entanglements triggered a controversy. Lebanese journalist Hassan Hamadeh has made it his hobby-horse [1], and Hezbollah recently followed suit.

A personal friend of Elie Wiesel, Mr. Cassese had reinvigorated his support for the State of Israel and stigmatized the Resistance organizations, including Hezbollah, as "terrorists". He published articles in legal journals to justify the occupation of Jerusalem. Finally, he was the paid legal adviser to the People’s Mujahedin, a terrorist organization aiming to overthrow the constitutional government of Iran. Such links made him a party to the conflict and disqualified him to judge the murders that took place in Lebanon, in particular the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Italian national Antonio Cassese will be replaced by Judge David Baragwanath from New Zealand.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is neither a UN court nor a Lebanese court, but a treaty-based body between the UN and the Lebanese government (not the Lebanese state). Until now, this hybrid entity has failed to comply with accepted international law standards, but has followed instead a political agenda. Strangely enough, the Special Court has submitted several reports to the UN Secretary General on its methods and management, but it withheld them from the Lebanese government when it changed its political complexion. In the final analysis, the Special Court is still in search of legitimacy while the majority parties in Lebanon are calling for its dissolution.

[1] « Lettre ouverte à Antonio Cassese, président du Tribunal Spécial sur le Liban », by Hassan Hamade, As-Safir (Liban), Réseau Voltaire, 7 March 2011

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