Jan 24, 2014

The first week of Prosecution evidence

On Thursday 23 January, the Prosecution finished questioning its expert witness Robyn Fraser on surveillance camera footage close to the assassination location. She was subsequently cross-examined by Mr. Edwards, counsel for the accused Badreddine and on behalf of the other defence teams. A few of the elements Mr. Edwards brought out in cross-examination were that there was no footage available of the explosion itself and further that the Lebanese authorities failed to deliver requested footage to Ms. Fraser, indicating that CCTV footage from the traffic traveling from north to south in the tunnel was "not available". Even after initially pursuing the matter, Ms. Fraser never obtained this evidence.

The next day, today, the Prosecution called another three witnesses to the stand. The first witness today, the fourth OTP witness, was Mr. Bou Rjeili, testifying through video link from Beirut. His story was similar to that of the first two OTP witnesses, his brother had been killed during the assassination on Rafik Hariri when he worked at the St. George Hotel. The very sad element of this witness's testimony was that his brother had been alive for another twelve hours after the attack, but that the witness and his family were denied entry to the crime site. Consequently, no one had found his brother until the next day, when it was too late and his brother had died.

The fifth witness was subject to protective measures, and his/her testimony was not available to the public through live streaming.

In putting on the stand its sixth witness, the Prosecution ended this week with its most moving story, making sure to impress the judges, the parties and the public. Before Fouad El Zahabi was called to testify, Mr. Milne for the Prosecution requested the judges to play a short video clip that was relevant to this witness's testimony. The Defence objected to this video being played in court, as it argued that its shocking nature outweighed the probative value thereof. Presiding Judge David Re overruled the Defence objection and the Prosecution was allowed to play the video. The video was indeed shocking. It was filmed at the time of the attack, on the location of the attack, and it showed a man in a car catching fire.

Next, the witness was called in by the Prosecutor. The witness was not present during the showing of the video, though he later indicated that he had watched the video on previous occasions, indicating that it had been broadcast on television "many, many times". The person on the video was the witness's brother, who had subsequently died of his injuries in the hospital. The witness, being emotional, indicated that the night before his brother died, his brother had gone to his mother to kiss her goodnight. The witness testified that his mother recalled that kiss every night before she went to sleep. At the end of his testimony, when Judge Re asked the witness whether he had anything else to add, he said that he would like to say to those who ordered, planned or executed the assassination that: "If you are not punished on this earth, God will punish you on Judgement Day".

An appropriate ending of the first week of the Prosecution's case, I would say.

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