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Defense Remarks in STL Hearing: Warrants Discourage Accused from Appearing in Court

The head of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Defense Office Francois Roux demanded on Friday that the arrest warrants against the four accused in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri be eliminated.

He said during a hearing at the STL headquarters in The Hague: “The issuance of arrest warrants has led to the accused being unable or unwilling to appear freely here in accordance with the provisions of the STL’s Rules of Evidence and Procedure.”

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Nasrallah: Let March 14 Accept STL Funds Halt as It Accepted UNESCO's

Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Friday asked the rival March 14 camp to accept Lebanon’s possible suspension of funds to the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon the same as “most of the March 14 forces did not comment on the issue of (the U.S.) suspending UNESCO funds.”

In a televised speech commemorating Hizbullah’s Martyr Day, Nasrallah said “it is useful to notice that the UNESCO, which is an international organization, has acknowledged the state of Palestine, drawing the United States’ anger because it has granted Palestine some of its rights.”

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Syrian Mines along Lebanese Border Injure One

A Lebanese man had a leg blown off Friday after stepping on a mine planted hours earlier by Syrian troops along Lebanon's northern border, local and hospital officials said.

"Imad Khaled Oweyshi was crossing the border from Syria back into Lebanon when he stepped on the mine," a local official who requested anonymity told AFP.

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Rights Groups Demand Investigation into Torture Claims against Suspected Spy

Seven rights groups have demanded that an investigation be launched in allegations that suspected Israeli spy, Tareq al-Rabaa, had been subject to torture while in custody.

They said in a statement that Rabaa was tortured while he was at the Defense Ministry on July 12, 2010, where he was being held for investigation.

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STL Prosecutors: Trial in Absentia should be Last Resort, Not 1st Choice

Prosecutors at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon asked the court on Friday to summon Lebanese officials to The Hague to hear from them about their powers in the implementation of arrest warrants against four Hizbullah suspects in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s assassination.

During a hearing held at the STL headquarters, Prosecution trial lawyer Iain Morley told three judges and two alternate judges, that “there is an opportunity to assist Lebanese authorities to hearing from them as to what their powers are.”

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STL Gives Details of in Absentia Trials, Rights of Accused

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon Trial Chamber will make a decision in due course on whether in absentia proceedings should begin in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s Feb. 2005 assassination case, the STL said on Friday.

The Trial Chamber’s decision would be based on the oral submissions at a hearing held on Friday, the written submissions that were filed by the Prosecution and Defense Office earlier this month and the filings from the Pre Trial judge.

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Military Source Denies Syrians Abducted in Lebanon

A high-ranking military source has stressed that no Syrian activists have been kidnapped in Lebanon only saying that the General Security Department had arrested Syrian nationals on criminal charges.

“Based on Lebanese Army reports, there are no kidnapped Syrians in Lebanon and the Intelligence Branches in the areas haven’t recorded any case of kidnapping,” the source told An Nahar daily published Friday.

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Berri Says Lebanon to Disavow from Arab Decision on Syria

Speaker Nabih Berri said that Lebanon is committed to disavow itself from any decision taken by the Arab Foreign Ministers in Cairo on Saturday over the Syrian turmoil.

“Lebanon supports implementing reforms (in Syria), the regime has to implement them and must be given the chance to do so to evade any negative repercussions,” Berri told As Safir newspaper on Friday.

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Miqati Refuses Political Exploitation to Syrian Refugees Situation, Cabinet to Hold Extraordinary Session

The cabinet will hold an extraordinary session on Friday at Baabda Palace to discuss the electoral draft law which is based on proportional representation, al-Liwaa newspaper reported.

The cabinet added three more items to its agenda including the draft law on determining the conditions for acquiring citizenship, suggested by Interior Minister Marwan Charbel.

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Report: Lebanese Banks Pressured Not to Deal with Syrian Financial Sector

Conflicting reports emerged on Friday over the visit of U.S. Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Daniel Glaser to Beirut.

An Nahar newspaper reported on Friday that the discussions that took place between Glaser and Lebanese bankers were positive.

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