STL Defense to Adopt Allegations to Highlight 'Flaws' in Probe

The Defense Office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is set to include allegations by Bo Astrom to highlight the “flaws in the international investigation.”

An Nahar newspaper reported on Monday that the Astom's claims will be a rich material for the defense office, which will focus on the flaws of the investigation and to thwart off the theories adopted by Prosecutor Norman Farrell.

Suspect Mustafa Badreddine's lead counsel Antoine Korkmaz told An Nahar newspaper published on Monday that the “defense office will highlight the matter without any reservations when the trials kick off.”

Astrom, a veteran Swedish police investigator who worked under former chief U.N. investigator Detlev Mehlis in the case of the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, told al-Jadeed television last week that Brigadier General Wissam al-Hasan was absent from Hariri's convoy on the day of the assassination.

Hasan, chief of the Intelligence Bureau of the Internal Security Forces, who was assassinated in 2012, had never before been absent from escorting ex-PM Hariri, the report said.

Astrom considered the behavior as “suspicious.”

The investigator said that “Hasan informed investigators that he wasn't with the convoy because he had to take a University exam, who wasn't convinced by the alibi.

Astrom added that Hasan informed his replacement to take the new route.

However, Mehlis later on refuted the report, saying that Astrom's allegations were not true and Hasan wasn't a suspect.

In 2011, it indicted four Hizbullah members,Mustafa Amin Badreddine, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, and Assad Hassan Sabra, were indicted in the attack.

A fifth Hizbullah suspect, Hassan Habib Merhi, was indicted in 2013.

The STL was set up to tackle the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The trial kicks off at The Hague on January 16, 2014.

It will commence at 9:30 CET with opening statements by the Prosecutor, the Legal Representatives of the Victims participating in the proceedings, as well as opening statements, if any, for the Defense.

The STL Trial Chamber also announced that there will be a Pre-Trial Conference starting at 10:30a.m. CET on January 9, 2014.

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