UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] on Tuesday extended the mandate for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) [official website; JURIST news archive] for the next three years. The independent tribunal was set up by the Lebanese government to try the suspected perpetrators of the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and 22 other members of his entourage. The Tribunal is composed of professional judges selected internationally and includes senior members of the Lebanese judiciary. Ban's spokesperson says that this reaffirmation cements the UN's continuing support [UN News Centre report, news release] to help Lebanon find justice from the attacks. The president of the tribunal, Judge David Baragwanath, has previously promised to conclude the STL "as swiftly as fairness allows." The STL has faced great difficulty [JURIST report] trying to arrest the members of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the believed perpetrators of the attack, where the Iran-backed Shiite militia Hezbollah is the country's most powerful political force.
Earlier this month the STL announced that it would try four of the accused assassins in absentia [JURIST report], the first time this has happened since the Nuremberg Trials. Those proceedings, however, will not begin for more than four months to allow the defense time to plan. Last August the STL announced that it would investigate three additional bomb attacks [JURIST report] that may be connected to the February 2005 attack that killed Hariri. Earlier that month, the STL unsealed the indictment [JURIST report] against the four individuals accused of the assassination. Also in August the STL president made a public plea [JURIST report] for the men to turn themselves in.