Naharnet

Report: 4 Ministers Turn Down Requests from Bellemare who is Mulling Measures Against them

Four caretaker ministers have turned down requests from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon prosecutor to provide information and documents, in breach of the cooperation protocol signed with the U.N., sources close to the STL told the English-language The Daily Star.

The requests made by Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare were sent last month from his office in Beirut to caretaker Premier Saad Hariri, who passed them on to Ministers Ghazi Aridi, Jebran Bassil, Ziad Baroud and Charbel Nahhas on February 24, the newspaper said Tuesday.

But the four ministers have not yet complied with the requests, the sources told The Daily Star.

The STL has requested a meeting with Lebanon’s ambassador to The Hague, Zeidan Saghir, on March 7 to discuss the issue, they said.

According to the daily, Bellemare is mulling to take measures against the ministers who declined to cooperate with him, such as listing them by name as uncooperative.

“In his letter to Aridi, Hariri urged the caretaker minister to permit U.N. investigators to question some ministry employees as witnesses and provide the requested documents as soon as possible in accordance with the Lebanese government’s commitment to cooperate with the STL,” The Daily Star said.

“In his letter to Bassil, Hariri reminded the caretaker energy minister in his capacity as former telecommunications minister that the Lebanese government and relevant authorities must facilitate the tribunal’s work and prevent the obstruction of the course of justice,” it added.

Hariri urged Baroud to help Bellemare’s Beirut office obtain some information and documents at the departments of the interior ministry and told Nahhas to act immediately to provide the requested telecommunications data to the STL.

The daily quoted parliamentary sources as saying that Nahhas had told Speaker Nabih Berri that he had stopped meeting the demands of the U.N. commission investigating ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s assassination since last year’s speech by Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in which he called on the Lebanese government and officials to boycott the STL and not cooperate with the commission.

Nahhas explained to Berri that Bellemare had requested comprehensive information about telephone conversations among the Lebanese, including ministers and MPs, and that this violated the public freedom and eavesdropping law, the sources said.


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