Lebanon on the brink

Ahram Online, Monday 6 Dec 2010

A report in a French daily stirs panic with its claim that STL head, Bellemare, has finished drafting the indictment

Tribunal opposition
(Reuters)A man tours with a donkey wearing a U.N. sign, to express opposition to the international Special Tribunal for Lebanon, in Beirut's southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold 4 November 2010 (Reuters).

An item published in the French daily Le Figaro on Sunday insinuated that the probe’s head, Daniel Bellemare, is either finished drafting the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's (STL) indictment or is finalising it

Le Figaro’s report reverberated through the Lebanese media like a herald of woe. The anticipated indictment from the STL, probing the assassination of prominent Lebanese premier Rafiq Al-Harir, edged the country closer to uncertainty.

Georges Malbrunot, Le Figaro’s senior reporter wrote on Sunday that Bellemare was finished writing up the indictment according to a source close to the STL and that he has sent his report to pre-trial Judge Daniel Fransen.

According to Lebanese daily Assafir, tribunal official Wajd Ramadan denied the French paper's allegations, claiming that Bellemare has yet to submit anything to the pre-trial judge. The judge is supposed to assess the indictment and has the authority to overturn it all together.

“Fransen may be concerned that a compromise is being sought between different parties [in Lebanon], to avoid recourse to violence by those who may be affected, that is to say Hezbollah,” the source told the French publication as quoted in the Lebanese Daily Star.

In 2006, Le Figaro published the initial indications pointing to the tribunal’s likelihood of indicting Hezbollah affiliates.  

Lebanon has been battered by speculation over the past two weeks on the issuance date of the troubling indictment.

Tensions escalated between the 14 March alliance, led by Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, who strongly support the tribunal, and Hezbollah who have called for its abolishment.

Shia group Hezbollah warned that it would not stand still if the group’s affiliates are implicated, denouncing the tribunal as an Israeli-project.

Many fear Lebanon might yield to sectarian tendencies if members of Hezbollah are accused and descend further into political crisis.

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