(AFP) – Dec 21, 2007
THE HAGUE (AFP) — An international court to try suspects in the 2005 murder of Lebanese former prime minister Rafiq Hariri will be based in a former Dutch intelligence headquarters, officials said Friday.
The municipality of Leidschendamm-Vorberg, in the suburbs of The Hague, said the government had decided to house the court in the building once used by the AIVD intelligence service.
Alterations to the building and other preparations would begin next year, while the court would open in 2009 on a five-year lease.
Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende agreed in August to host the special court after some initial hesitation on security grounds. The Netherlands will be responsible for security.
Witnesses who cannot return to their own country for security reasons will not be able to live in The Netherlands after they have given evidence.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) will try suspects in the assassination of Hariri, a popular ex-prime minister who was killed along with 22 others in a massive explosion on the Beirut seafront on February 14, 2005.
The tribunal will also have jurisdiction over other attacks against anti-Syrian Lebanese figures carried out between October 2004 and December 2005 if they are linked to the Hariri slaying.
UN investigators probing Hariri's murder have identified several people who they say may have been involved in the slaying, but no one has been charged.
The Dutch government will take care of the six-year lease, according to the official statement. Lebanon will handle 49 percent of the expenses incurred for the tribunal, while voluntary donations from UN member states will pay the rest of the bill.
The Hague is already fast becoming the legal capital of the world, as the seat for several international tribunals such as the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone, which has its headquarters in Freetown, has also moved the trial of Liberian former president Charles Taylor to The Hague.
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