Nov 18, 2015

Evidence on the origin of the SIM cards allegedly used by those responsible for the bomb attack

During the beginning of September the Prosecution called various witnesses to present evidence on the origins and nature of the network phones and SIM cards allegedly used by the accused in preparing and organising the bomb attack. The Prosecution intends to show that all SIM cards were purchased anonymously. Further, in relation to the red network phones, it is the Prosecution's case that the SIM cards were sold by a mobile telephone distributor to witness PRH553 on 24 December 2004 and delivered to his shop in Tripoli. At some point between 24 December 2004 and 4 January 2005 witness PRH553 sold the eight red network cards, but the Prosecution cannot establish to whom these were sold. Attached to the forms for these SIM cards were identification documents of customers from the Tripoli area, all of whom had purchased their own SIM cards during the holiday period. On 4 January 2005 the eight red network SIM cards were activated.

Mr El-Ajouz (31 August, 1 and 2 September 2015)

Mr El-Ajouz is the owner of Power Group, a mobile telephone distributor. Power Group distributes pre-paid and post-paid SIM cards, scratch cards (to recharge pre-paid SIM card) and handsets to hundreds of dealers in Lebanon. Power Group is an authorised distributor of Alfa products. One of the businesses to which distribution took place was run by witness PRH553 (see further below).

Mr El-Ajouz testifies about the storage and documentation of the products, which, among others, can be tracked through their serial number or bar codes on a form. The witness is commenting on a number of records (including delivery notes, receipt vouchers, and purchase overviews of a particular point of sale) of pre-paid SIM cards for lines claimed to be part of the networks used by these accused. These lines were coming from Alfa and were on-sold to a distributor in Tripoli.

When Power Group sold a group of pre-paid lines, the dealer could fill out a form including a bar code, the subscriber's name and other personal information, and a copy of the purchaser’s ID; this was sent to Alfa. However, this form was only completed for about 20% of the telephone lines. The IDs were not checked by Power Group. For post-paid SIM cards the completion of a form, including a copy of an ID, is obligatory.

During cross-examination Defence counsel is confronting the witness with reports claiming a link between an organisation he’s involved in, the Islamic Charity Projects Association, and the Syrian intelligence, which link the witness denies. Unfortunately, the transcript of 1 September has not (yet) been published and therefore the remainder of the cross-examination remains unknown or unclear for the moment.

Mr Jihad Hassan Tannir (2 September)

Mr Tannir is the former general manager of a wholesale company called Celltec. This was a similar company to Power Group - about which previous witness Mr El-Ajouz testified - in that they distributed Alfa telecommunications products. Mr Tannir explained that Celltex purchased SIM cards and recharge cards from Alfa and distributed these products to its outlets. The witness explains the procedures in distributing telephone lines, which is again similar to evidence given by Mr El-Ajouz on the practices that existed within Power Group, although Celltext also sold products to end users in its own shop. The witness comments on a number of documents, including application forms and invoices, for SIM cards that went through his firm and are claimed to have been used by the accused. Payment options for post-paid cards included payment by the customer in a branch of a certain bank or directly to Alfa, and thus there was no need to provide banking information on the application forms.

PRH090 (2 September)

Witness PRH090 is listed as the subscriber of a pre-paid mobile phone number which was used from October 2004 until September 2005 as one of the blue network phone numbers and which was particularly important in the weeks preceding the bomb attack on Hariri according to the Prosecution. The witness explained in his statement that the application form for this phone number does not contain his handwriting and that most of the information is incorrect; moreover his signature is not on the form, but it is a copy of his ID that is attached to the application. PRH090 had previously purchased a telephone number and left a copy of his identity card at the shop; he has never lost his identity card.

PRH702 (3 September)

Witness PRH702 is another witness whose name is listed as the subscriber of a mobile telephone which the Prosecution allege was part of the blue network. The witness was shown the application form for this phone number and he does not recognise the telephone number; also some of his personal information, including the spelling of his name and his address, are incorrect. He also does not recognise the handwriting on the form nor the signature. PRH702 had purchased a new SIM card towards the end of 2004 and provided an identity card during the transaction.

PRH553 (8-10 September)

Witness PRH553 owned a small mobile phone shop in Tripoli, and was involved in the wholesale and retail of mobile phone products, including SIM cards, recharge cards, handsets and mobile phone accessories. PRH568, who was very experienced in this business and able to get good prices from the dealers, was the shop manager; he dealt with the suppliers and served the customers. The group of suppliers included Power Group, Alliance, Celltec and Kettaneh. They were re-selling Alfa and MTC products, also to other shops.

The witness did not keep any records of the products sold at this shop. It was up to the other shops to complete the application form for the pre-paid cards, although the shops would receive 3 dollar for each completed form for a line (and the shop owned by PRH553 even charged 5 dollar for not completing a form); this is why forms were completed with incorrect information; any ID they had or was given to them by a shop was attached. They were able to use the same ID for tens of pre-paid phone lines. The shop filled in the forms, and very rarely did the customer himself do this. Whenever a customer did not provide an ID card, the witness would fill in the form and put in an ID card in order to recover the money. Very rarely did the form match the identity of the buyer of the SIM card, and the witness would make up the names, addresses, dates and signatures. According to the witness “[t]here was nobody carrying a line with his own name unless we are talking about the post-paid cards or the fixed lines.” Therefore, the Prosecution's theory that all network telephone lines used by the accused were obtained anonymously, seems to apply to almost all (pre-paid) telephone lines in Lebanon at that time.

In September 2005, the witness was charged with having falsified personal papers, and using these falsified papers in relation to the activation forms for the eight SIM cards of the red network. He has been incarcerated for almost three years by the Lebanese authorities but no trial was ever held. The Defence confronts PRH553 with a number of possible contradictions between his previous statements and his testimony in court. However, some of the interrogation of the witness by the Lebanese authorities took place under very harsh conditions and without access to a lawyer.

Defence Counsel Mr Mettraux is questioning the witness about telephone calls between his shop manager, PRH568 (a dropped Prosecution witness), and the Tripoli sales person from Power Group around the date of purchase of the red network cards in December 2005; the Defence also claims to have evidence that shows contact between PRH568 and the Syrian military intelligence. There is also a small dealer, whose name is kept confidential in court ('number six’), about whom the witness and PRH568 remembered that PRH568 sold him ten lines in early January 2005, but they did not remember the exact date of the sale. Therefore it is unknown whether these were the same ten lines as used by the red network. The witness does not remember to whom he sold the red network lines. Further, the Defence has evidence of a number of phone calls between PRH568 and number six (and the assistant of number six) on 30 December 2004, so possibly the sale of these ten lines could have been on this date. The witness also explains that the dates on the forms are not necessarily accurate, with the date on the forms for the red network lines being 12 January 2005.

For the moment it remains unclear to whom these red network telephone lines were sold and if and how they came into the hands of the accused.

Nov 3, 2015

More evidence on telecommunication: Expert John Edward Philips

Prior to the recess the Prosecution already explained that the focus in the next months will be telecommunication. Mr Philips, who gave testimony from 18 until 26 August, is an expert witness in the area of cell site analyses, who will describe the technical working of mobile companies and networks. At the request of the Prosecution he wrote a report called “Cell Site Analyses as Applied to GSM Networks” dated 24 September 2012.

Mr Philips worked for Marconi Communication Systems for 15 years. During this time he was invited to publish numerous technical papers on the topic of mobile radio communications and he was active on a number of industry-wide technical committees in relation to mobile radio technology. Thereafter he became head of design and development at Multitone Electronics and he was the secretary of the European paging association. Subsequently he became an engineer at British Telecoms and worked as a cell site analyst. Because of his work he was invited to sit on the GSM specification committee.

His expertise in cell site analysis involves taking the data that is produced by the system and analysing it. He mainly worked in the UK and is not specifically an expert on Lebanese technology; however, the witness expects that the technology employed in the UK is similar to that employed in Lebanon. Defence Counsel Mr Korkmaz challenged the expertise of the witness in relation to GSM and the Lebanese GSM system, but the Trial Chamber was satisfied that Mr Philips has specialised knowledge, skill, or training that can assist the Chamber to understand or determine an issue in dispute; namely, he has expertise on the workings of GSM generally as applied to cell site analysis.

The Prosecution separated the evidence of the witness in three parts: (i) introduction to cell site analysis; (ii) mission phones; and (iii) single-user analysis of some of the SIM cards of key phones in the case. The Prosecution started with a PowerPoint presentation to explain the telecommunication at stake. The witness first explained some key definitions, including “call data records”, that is the data used for all analyses. This data is provided by mobile phone network providers, in the instant case Alfa and MTC. Mr Philips explains a lot of general technical details in the area of telecommunication, including what best server coverage is (the area over which a cell provides the strongest signal), geographical profiling, frequent number analysis and areas of potential manipulation of call data records.

Despite objections by the Defence, Mr Philips continues his evidence by talking about the situation of the providers MTC and Alfa in Lebanon in 2004-2005. The witness gave a very brief case-specific overview as to the interaction and association between mission phones. The mission phone groups are associated with the mission, and the mission is a crime. The Red phone group, the inner group, would appear to be associated with that particular crime, given their geographical location, timing and build-up in the period before the crime. The Blue group has, from a cell sites analyses perspective, no association with the crime but can be linked to the Red group; the same can be said for the Green group. There appears to be a common element between the Red, Blue and Green phone groups, as there is one single user who has a Blue, a Red and a Green phone. Mr Povas explains that it is the Prosecution’s case that this single user is Salim Ayyash.

Mr Courcelle-Labrousse, Defence Counsel for the accused Oneissi, cross-examined the witness about the lack of relevance of his report for the Lebanese situation, and his lack of specific knowledge about the Lebanese GSM configuration. Mr Philips accepted that when you implement a GSM network, the areas you need to cover may have different topographical specifics depending on the location. Defence Counsel Mr Young, for the accused Sabra, dealt with a very technical matter, namely congestion issues, the so-called "anomalies". Mr Philips has talked about the possibility that sudden heavy usage of cells causes an anomaly. Examples giving by the witness are football matches and sports events. Mr Young introduced the idea that the explosion on the 14 February could have caused such an anomaly, referring to previous witnesses who explained that there were problems using their phones after the explosion. The witness thinks that this is possible but only after the incident occurred and centered around that particular area. Judge Re requested the Prosecution to research the potential damage or destruction of cell sites in the area of the St. Georges Hotel, which could also be of influence on the cell site information.  

Further, Mr Young questioned the witness about the potential for manipulation of call data records. A former employee of the Prosecution told the witness in an earlier stage that some held the view that the phone evidence that was used in this case was false. At that moment the testimony was interrupted over a dispute about the disclosure of documents. A document relating to this conversation between the witness and the former employee of the Prosecution has not been disclosed by the Prosecution to the Defence. The Prosecution immediately disclosed the said document and, having read the document, the Defence made an application to adjourn the cross-examination of Mr Philips on the points covered in this particular document, including whether there have been manipulations of call data records. The Chamber granted the application and therefore the cross-examination was postponed.

Oct 27, 2015

The five witnesses responsible for the creation of call sequence tables

On 20-22 July the Prosecution presented the evidence of five members of the Prosecution who were responsible for the creation of call sequence tables (CSTs). The telephone numbers in the CSTs include the numbers of the various networks that, according to the Prosecution, were used by the accused in preparation of the bomb attack. These five witnesses all produced very similar evidence.

The Prosecution explains in court that a CST “presents a chronological and complete sequence of calls relating to a particular phone number referred to as the target number over a specified period of time. The CSTs detail each call including the other telephone number the target number was in contact with; the date and time of the call; the type of call, either voice or short message service, or SMS; its duration; information on the handset used by the target number; and cell information on the cell sector used by the target number at the start of the call. The CST occasionally also may include information on the cell sector used at the end of the call, which is referred to as end cell data.”

There are also CSTs for SMS (text messages), which present the SMS content sent and received by a phone over a relevant data range in a consistent accessible format. The SMS CST provides the data and time of the SMS; the other telephone number involved; the direction of the SMS and its content.

The Chamber, in its decision of 6 May in relation to call sequence tables, witness statements and the legality of the transfer of call data records to UNIIIC and the Prosecution, has deferred its decision on the admissibility of CSTs (and related witness statements) until at least one witness has testified about the provenance of the call data records and the production of the CSTs.

Ms. Kei Kamei

The first witness, Ms. Kei Kamei, has been working as an analyst with the Office of the Prosecutor since 9 November 2009, and previously worked for UNIIIC. She has personally produced numerous (SMS) CSTs and coordinated the standardisation of CSTs within the office. Ms. Kamei gives evidence on the source materials she used to produce the CSTs, which are (i) files for one particular phone number or interest; and (ii) bulk data for multiple numbers on a specific day. Ms. Kamei explains the various component parts of call data records. The Prosecution received this data by making a request for assistance to the Lebanese telecommunications service provider in relation to a specific number of interest. The Prosecution requested the bulk call data records for the period September 2004-December 2005 - which was later even extended - that is all phone calls made in Lebanon between these dates. Ms. Kamei further explains the functioning of the SQL database which was used to analyse the bulk data. Further, for the SMS CSTs only bulk data was used, although not all content of the SMS messages appeared to be available in the call data records. In addition, a list with cell tower names received from the telecommunication companies was used to replace the cell IDs in the CSTs.

Ms. Kamei continues to explain how she created the CSTs out of the available data, which involved quite some manual handling. The Judges express their concern as to the accuracy and reliability of the CSTs produced. Ms. Kamei explains the content of various CSTs shown to her. The amount of errors located and the validation and peer review processes are discussed as well.

During cross-examination Mr. Edwards questions the witness about the creation of her statement, and about spot-checks and quality control of the CSTs. If another analyst checks the CST, usually that person would go to the raw source and extract a few, do spot-checks on certain rows.  There was not a formal protocol. No record was kept of the errors that were found. Ms. Kamei admits that it is possible that some of the CSTs contain mistakes that were not detected.

Mr. Andrew Donaldson

The next witness, Mr. Donaldson has been a Prosecution analyst since March 2009. He produced 45 CSTs, and in his statements he describes the components of the CSTs, as well as the sources, and the creation and double-checking of the CSTs. Mr. Donaldson would give his work a 9.9 on a scale of 10 regarding accuracy. The witness estimates that almost all of the CSTs that the Prosecution intends to rely upon as exhibits have been peer reviewed.

Ms. Helena Habraken

Ms. Habraken is the next analyst of the Office of the Prosecutor giving testimony about the CSTs. In her statement of 18 December 2014 she describes having produced 27 CSTs, and she also describes the work methods and sources of the CSTs. Ms. Habraken states that she thinks that the CSTs she made are highly accurate representations of the call data records. According to her, and generally speaking, most errors in the CSTs are formatting errors, when a number would not be properly displayed or a problem in a date or time format.

Mr. Lachlan Christie

Mr. Christie also is an analyst with the Office of the Prosecutor who produced CSTs. He testifies about the same topics as the previous witnesses. Again his confidence level is high that the CSTs he produced are accurate representations of the call data records.

Mr. Christian Carnus

Another Prosecution analyst who produced SMS CSTs, Mr. Carnus describes the method he used to create the SMS CSTs: the SMS contents records were provided by MTC Touch to the Prosecution in the form of large text files for multiple numbers. Mr. Carnus queried the data through the stored procedures in the SQL database and copied the results into an Excel spreadsheet. Mr. Carnus then formatted the SMS CST. Also Mr. Carnus was asked about his confidence level and he is very confident that the SMS CSTs accurately reflect the SQL database. He confirms that the errors he detected were mainly cosmetic in nature. He also confirms that there was no formal peer review process. There was no cross-examination by the Defence.

Ms. Nadine Stanford

Ms. Stanford is another Prosecution analyst and her statement tendered into evidence contains similar evidence as the previous witnesses.

Aug 13, 2015

More evidence about the claim of responsibility for the bomb attack

On 14-16 July another two witnesses testified before the STL about the allegedly false claim of responsibility. The first witness was an employee of Reuters News Agency and received a telephone call claiming responsibility on the day of the attack. The second witness is Matthew Barrington, an analyst working for the STL Prosecution, who reviewed the tape with video footage from Al-Jazeera of 14 February 2005.

Employee of Reuters in Beirut (14 July)
Witness PRH012, testifying with protective measures, worked for Reuters News Agency in Beirut in February 2005. The day of the assassination the witness was working at her office, and after the explosion occurred, she decided to visit the crime scene with a colleague. They hailed a taxi which took them close to the event, as at the scene of explosion cars were still exploding. There were still flames and people were trying to save the injured and victims.
As soon as the witness heard that the target was Hariri’s convoy, the witness went back to the office and watched the details of the event on the news; then the phone rang. The witness picked up and a man told her to keep quiet and write down a statement, which included the words: “We are El-Nusra-wal-Jihad group in Greater Syria. We announce and claim our responsibility for killing this criminal, Rafik Hariri, this infidel.’’ The caller concluded by saying a Quranic verse. He had an authoritative voice, speaking classic Arabic with an unnatural and unusual accent, exaggerating for example the pronunciation of the J. It wasn’t a Lebanese accent. If the accused Sabra and/or Oneissi will ever appear and speak before the Tribunal, it would be very interesting to compare their accents and/or dialects to the evidence given by this and other witnesses. For the moment, the Prosecution’s indictment reveals that both accused are claimed to be Lebanese citizens born in Beirut.
After receiving the call she immediately went to see her supervisor who told her that they should not give such phone calls any importance because they seem to be unreliable. Reuters did not broadcast or report the news based on the phone call they received. However, after they saw the declaration at Al-Jazeera, they reported the news based on what Al-Jazeera had broadcast. The witness explained that the content was similar, even though the wording was different. The Prosecution tendered the call sequence table of the public phone number of Reuters that was used for the claim of responsibility; 110 calls were made to this phone number on 14 February 2005.
Mr Haynes, the legal representative of the victims, questioned the witness about civilians who were trying to reach the centre of the blast in order to rescue the victims. Mr Mettraux, defence counsel appearing on behalf of the accused Sabra, questioned the witness about the fact that, although they had not informed the Lebanese authorities about this call, she was interrogated about this call by the Lebanese security services. She also further clarified that the man who called Reuters might have called the administration and asked to speak to the editorial desk, and the call had then been transferred to them.

OTP analyst Matthew Barrington (15-16 July)

Mr Matthew Barrington is an analyst working for the Office of the Prosecutor. He has analysed the video footage from Al-Jazeera of 14 February 2005. The purpose of this review was to determine, as far as possible, the times when the events on the tape occurred, and thus (or at least so it seems) the timing of the phone calls with the claim of responsibility. The witness prepared a chart of the timing of the events on the tape.

In cross-examination defence counsel Mr Mettraux challenges the witness' findings as to the timing of the events on the tape. The Defence takes the position that in fact Mr Barrington could not in any way verify the times that he asserts from an analytical point of view. The witness explains that this was an ad hoc task that he was approached with and was asked to complete. He did not know the background or the investigative avenues that were being pursued by the investigative team at the time. The witness further states that he was unaware of the fact that the footage received from Al-Jazeera was only four hours instead of the unabridged twelve hours that the Prosecution had asked for. Further, the witness was confronted with the fact that another analyst of the Prosecution had concluded that "The footage examined did not contain any material which could assist in determining the exact broadcast time of either news of the claim of responsibility or the confessional tape." The witness confirmed that whilst this person was unable to put times on these events, he was able to do so. When further asked about the methods he used in establishing the timing of the events on the tape - using a particular video-clip to estimate the timing of both the claim of responsibility and the confirmation of Hariri's death - the witness confirms that his conclusions are based on quite a few uncertain assumptions.

Aug 12, 2015

Witness Lorenzo Lanzi on the creation of photo-boards of the accused

Mr Lorenzo Lanzi, who gave evidence in court on 14-15 July, is a Swiss national. He is a criminalist at the Geneva police in Switzerland and a former associate forensic expert with the Office of the Prosecution. Mr Lanzi is specialised in forensic imaging, and was asked to create photo-boards which were to include images of the accused Sabra and Oneissi. An investigator of the Prosecution asked Mr Lanzi to create these photo-boards in order to allocate the use of certain telephones to Mr Sabra and to Mr Oneissi. In order to create these photo-boards, Mr Lanzi performed an assessment of various images contained in Lebanese passport application forms. The aim of the assessment was to retrieve images of  Mr Sabra and Mr Oneissi, and to retrieve images of faces of individuals with similar visual characteristics referred to as 'fillers'.

The statement of the witness is tendered into evidence and the witness is cross-examined by defence counsel Mr Courcelle-Labrousse. Mr Lanzi confirms that he was not trained to create photo-boards. At the time of creation he was not aware of the existence of specific forensic rules (from police practice guides for example) on the creation of photo-boards, including that (i) the investigator who is going to show a photo-board to a witness should act in such a way as not to be aware of who is the suspect on the photo-board; (ii) the investigator who is to show the photo-board should not have been involved directly or indirectly in the preparation of such a photo-board; and (iii) the pictures in a photo-board should be presented to the witness in a sequential fashion, that is, one at a time, rather than simultaneously or not all at the same time. The Prosecution confirms that there existed no formal policies on the compilation of photo-boards within its office.

The witness further explains that he chose those individuals whilst trying to avoid including the brothers and relatives for each one of the photo-boards. The Defence however points the witness to various family members (of co-accused) and accused before the STL included in the photo-boards. The witness does not remember out of how many photos he made the selection for the photo-boards or what criteria he exactly used to select faces similar to the accused, as some of the faces show very little similarity.

Hopefully there will soon be more evidence in court about the use of these photo-boards.

Aug 10, 2015

Witness Ben-Jeddo on the 'claim of responsibility' phone calls allegedly coming from the accused

Mr Ghassan Ben-Jeddo (testimony of 8-10 July) was the chief of the Al-Jazeera bureau in Beirut in 2005. The bureau chief was the main liaison point between the headquarters in Doha and the bureau in Beirut. He also was in charge of communicating and liaising with the local authorities and coordinating the work between the correspondents and the employees and staff members in the bureau.

[screenshot of Mr Ben-Jeddo testifying via video-link before the STL]

When the explosion occurred Mr Ben-Jeddo was at the office with the editor and the producer. They heard the explosion very clear. He left the office right away with the film director - because next to the Al-Jazeera office was the residence of deputy Walid Jumblatt - but they saw no trace of the explosion in the vicinity. The smoke was coming from the seaside, so they walked back to the main office in the central part of Beirut. The witness sent the producer and a correspondent to the area and went back to the office. The editor (witness PRH006) answered the first call, with Mr Ben-Jeddo taking over from her. The call came shortly after Al Mustaqbal announced that Hariri had been assassinatedThe witness wrote down what the caller was saying, and he thinks this claim of responsibility was very similar to the text that they received on paper later on. An organisation called ''El-Nusra-wal-Jihad in Greater Syria'' claimed responsibility; the witness had never heard of this organisation and has no evidence of its existence.

This first call was not very clear. The classical Arabic of the caller was poor, and the pronunciation revealed that he was not an Arabic speaker. About the accent of the caller the witness further states:
"Either he was really from the area of Afghanistan, Pakistan, or he could have been from a place where his mother tongue was English but he spoke Arabic as well. It could be something like that. And there was a big difference between the first caller and the other callers. And as I said, it was obvious that he was reading a text or at least this was my impression and his language was not really good."
Following that first call the witness went on air on Al-Jazeera and provided information about the claim of responsibility they had received. The witness did not take the claim of responsibility seriously. "[I]n such a major assassination operation against somebody, when somebody gets in touch with you and speaks bad Arabic and tells you that they claim responsibility for Hariri's assassination and they're speaking a rather fundamentalist language, can I, as an experienced, seasoned journalist, can I conclude from that that this is confirmed a hundred per cent and that I announce it immediately in this way? I don't think this is ethical" Mr Ben-Jeddo said. When they received the tape afterwards, they took it seriously.

After the end of the broadcast Al-Jazeera received a second phone call; the caller was asking them to go to the tree next to the pink building close to the ESCWA building, and retrieve the tape within 15 minutes. This second caller was speaking proper Arabic. His voice was sharp; the witness couldn’t detect an accent, the man could have been Lebanese or from the region, he spoke neither colloquial nor classic Arabic but neutral. It was obvious that the caller was in a public area, there was a little bit of background noise. The technician (witness PRH115) brought the tape to the office. The tape was in an envelope and contained a written statement similar to taped statement . The witness thinks that, as a journalist and bureau chief, his role was to check the authenticity of the tape and then to feed the tape to the headquarters to take the relevant decision. That evening General Jamil El-Sayyed called about the tape and the next day the tape was handed over to him

The video tape with the alleged false claim of responsibility is played in court, and the accompanying letter is read out, containing the following words:
"Here is good news for all Muslims (…) Praise be to God, the banner of support and jihad was held aloft in Greater Syria and, praise be to God, due punishment was meted out to the agent of infidelity in the Land of the Two Holy Places, Rafic Hariri, through a suicide operation carried out by the Mujahid, Ahmad Abu-Adass, who raised the banner of support and jihad in Greater Syria on Monday 14 February 2005 AD, 5 Muharram 1426 AH in Beirut."
The letter further states that it attaches a film of the martyr Ahmad Abu Adass who carried out the operation, and is signed by Abou Hafass El-Chami. The letter and envelope were submitted for finger-print analysis to a national security agency; there were some latent finger-print marks but these did not match the finger-prints of the accused Oneissi, Sabra and Ayyash, whose finger-prints were taken from their passport applications.

After a while the witness received a third call from another person, a third person, who was asking  him why they didn't broadcast the tape. The witness told him that this was a decision that would be taken by the headquarters in Doha. The caller then became rather sharp, and he was threatening Mr Ben-Jeddo. The accent of the third caller was similar to that of the second caller, he had a local accent or from the region. The line was good and there was no background noise during this third call. In the end the headquarters decided to broadcast the tape. The witness is questioned about the exact timing of the various phone calls. Subsequently he’s being shown a list with phone calls received by the Al-Jazeera landline that was used to make the claim of responsibility, although the Prosecution is not taking the position that this list is complete. Some of the phone calls are made from public phone boots.

In cross-examination the Defence further questions the witness about the exact timing of the various phone calls, as his testimony deviates from his previous statements as to when the phone calls took place. Obviously this is important for the Defence, with these phone calls being attributed to two of the accused (Mr Oneissi and Mr Sabra). Also, the witness has previously stated that four telephone calls were received in relation to the false claim of responsibility, which seems inconsistent with the Prosecution’s case.

In addition, the Defence questions the witness about a person called Wissam, who worked from December 2004 for a period of three months for Al-Jazeera to assist in setting up the office. Wissam had been recommended by Ibrahim El-Masri from the Islamist movement Jamaa Islamiya. Defence counsel Mr Mettraux shows the witness records of telephone contacts between Wissam and Rustom Ghazaleh, the Syrian official in Lebanon, and between Rustom Ghazaleh and Ibrahim El-Masri. Phone records also show that Wissam had sent Eid greetings to Khodr Nabah, a friend of Abu Adass and one of the people from a Sunni fundamentalist group called Al-Qaeda 13 who was arrested in the aftermath of the Hariri killing. Under pressure, one of the members of the group confessed to being involved with the assassination, but subsequently retracted that confession. Information accusing Al-Qaeda 13 had come from Al-Ahbash, a pro-Syrian organisation. The witness thinks it might be possible that Wissam was at the office at the day of the bombing and assisted with contacting persons for the talk shows, as this would have been normal. 

Further, the Defence asks the witness about his appointment with General Jamil Sayyed the day after the bombing. General Jamil Sayyed told the witness that initial investigations about Ahmad Abu Adass showed that the latter was growing more and more fundamentalist and religious, that he used to live in Tariq-El-Jdideh (where the Islamist movement Jamaa Islamiya was present), and that he was seen in one of the mosques. According to the witness, Jamaa Islamiya is a moderate religious organisation. The witness also explains that there was a great deal of doubt that a religious group had killed Hariri. Mr Ibrahim El-Masri had described Ahmad Abu Adass “as being a very modest, common person, and somehow naive. And he ruled out the fact that Ahmad Abu Adass had all these capacities and skills and resources to be part of such a massive operation. That's why he considered that Ahmad Abu Adass might have been a guinea pig or a scapegoat.”

Aug 5, 2015

Al-Jazeera witnesses on the claim of responsibility for the bombing

The Prosecution heard the evidence from a number of persons that worked for Al-Jazeera, the news agency that was contacted - purportedly by the accused - in relation to the claim of responsibility for the attack. The indictment provides a detailed account of this allegedly false claim of responsibility for the attack (para. 44):
“ONEISSI and SABRA [..] acted together in disseminating statements falsely attributing responsibility for the attack, ensuring the delivery of the video and ensuring that the video would be broadcast. Starting about 75 minutes after the attack, ONEISSI or SABRA made a total of four calls to the offices of the Reuters and AI-Jazeera news networks in Beirut. All four phone calls were made using the same prepaid Telecard 6162569 from four different public payphones. The sequence of events was as follows: 
a. At about 14:03, MERHI on Purple 231 called SABRA on Purple 018. At about 14:11, ONEISSI or SABRA claimed to Reuters that a fictional fundamentalist group called 'Victory and Jihad in Greater Sy ria' executed the attack.b. At about 14:19, ONEISSI or SABRA uttered into the phone to AI-Jazeera a claim of responsibility from 'Victory and Jihad in Greater Syria', a report of which was broadcast shortly after.c. At about 14:37, MERHI on Purple 231 called SABRA on Purple 018.d. At about 15:27, SABRA called AI-Jazeera and gave information on where to find a videocassette which had been placed in a tree at the ESCW A Square near the AI-Jazeera offices at Shakir Ouayeh building, Beirut. ONEISSI was watching the location to confirm receipt by AI-Jazeera of the videocassette.e. At about 15:50, the videotape was picked up from the tree by an employee of AI-Jazeera. On the video, ABU ADASS claimed responsibility for the attack, that it was in support of 'Mujahidin' in Saudi Arabia, and that further attacks would follow. Attached to the videocassette was a letter in Arabic which stated inter alia that ABU ADASS was the suicide bomber.f. Between 15:53 and 16:02, MERHI on Purple 231 was in contact three times with SABRA on Purple 018, and SABRA on Purple 018 was in contact five times with ONEISSI on Purple 095.g. At about 17:04, ONEISSI or SABRA demanded with menace that AI-Jazeera broadcast the video, which was done shortly after.”

The Al-Jazeera witnesses are: PRH006 ‘the editor’, PRH007 ‘the film director’, PRH115 ‘the technician’, Ghassan Ben-Jeddo (his testimony will be discussed in a separate blog) and PRH430 ‘the producer’.

Witness PRH006: The editor (23-24 June)
This witness used to work as a footage editor in one of Al Jazeera’s offices in Beirut. She gave evidence about the two phone calls that she received at their office following the 14 February 2005 bombing that killed Hariri. These calls were made to a general publicly known telephone line which the public may use to ring into Al-Jazeera; the witness recalls being the person who first picked up the phone on two of those occasions. During the first call a tense male voice asked her to write down a statement he was dictating quickly, and as she was not able to follow up with what he was saying, he threatened to hang up. She gave the phone to her colleague Ghassan Ben-Jeddo, who also started to take notes. The man spoke Arabic, and was trying to speak with a Lebanese accent, but it was very clear that he was not Lebanese. The message on the phone was the same as the message sent to them in written form. The caller said, among others, that they had killed Hariri.

The same person called again, and the witness answered the phone but he asked her to pass the phone to someone who would understand what he was saying and she gave the phone to Mr Ben-Jeddo. Mr Ben-Jeddo told the witness that there was a tape left for them in a well-known tree in Beirut. The film director went there and came back without finding the tape. Mr Ben-Jeddo subsequently asked the technician to go and bring the tape. He had to climb in the tree in order to get the box. The technician brought the tape with him in an envelope; there was also a statement. As soon as he arrived the witness took the tape and they watched it immediately. They contacted the headquarters for Al-Jazeera in Doha - who would make the decision if something should be broadcasted or not - and the content of the tape was transmitted to them. The witness started working on the footage and images, but she heard from her colleagues that further calls were received concerning the claim of responsibility.

The Prosecution showed the witness a document with text messages sent and received by the witness, and asks her about her phone contacts with various colleagues from Al-Jazeera after the bombing. There is also extensive questioning about the exact timing of the events, about which the witness has provided some contradictory statements, and which is possibly contradicting the evidence to be given by other Prosecution witnesses who will testify about the same events. Obviously this is also relevant evidence in relation to the claims made by the Prosecution in the indictment about the exact timing of hte calls made by the accused (see above).

Witness PRH007: The film director (24 June)
In 2005, the witness, a film director, worked for Al-Jazeera Television in Beirut. The Prosecution provides a summary of the witness’ statement that is tendered into evidence:
“On 14th of February 2005, when the explosion occurred, witness 7 was at the Al-Jazeera office in Clemenceau with Mr Ben-Jeddo. (...) Witness 7 was not in the office when the first call to Al-Jazeera, claiming responsibility, was received. (…)  Mr. Ben-Jeddo also told Witness 7 that there was a tape to be collected located in a tree in Riad-El-Solh Square next to a pink painted building. He was told that the person who called to claim responsibility was the person who put the tape in the tree, although Mr. Ben-Jeddo did not mention the name of a group or person claiming responsibility. Witness 7 agreed to collect the tape. Witness 7 went to the tree but was a little afraid that someone might shoot at him. (…) Witness 7 discreetly looked up at the tree and saw a white box high up which had three to five small holes. (…) he went back to tell Mr. Ben-Jeddo that he had seen an empty box. Mr. Ben-Jeddo told him that if they did not get the tape, then those claiming responsibility would give it to another station."
Witness PRH115: The technician (7- 8 July)
The Prosecution again provides a summary of the witness’ statements that are tendered into evidence. In February 2005, the witness was working as a technician at Al-Jazeera. When the explosion took place on 14 February 2005, the witness received a text message from the editor which said that there had been a big explosion. He called her on the office land-line and she explained that there had been an explosion near the office. After this, the witness went into his home and watched the TV where he saw Mr Ben-Jeddo say that Hariri was the possible target. The witness went to the office, and was told that they had received a phone call from someone saying that there was a videotape to be collected and that the film director had gone to collect it but he was not able to find it. The witness went to the location at the Riad Al-Solh Square and there was only one noticeable tree next to the building, he walked around the tree two or three times. When the witness noticed a white box, he had started to worry as there were numerous soldiers in the area. He did not dare to bring the whole box with him, so he left it at the bottom of the tree and he took only the envelope with him back to Al-Jazeera. He gave the envelope with the tape to Mr Ben-Jeddo. After viewing the tape, Mr Ben-Jeddo and the editor told the others present in the office of its content. At this point, Al-Jazeera started broadcasting the news of the tape's existence. The witness also learned that there was a letter accompanying the tape which contained the same message as the video.The tape remained at Al-Jazeera for a couple of days before the security services picked it up. To the knowledge of the witness, there were three calls made to Al-Jazeera regarding the video and the claim of responsibility: the first call was to claim responsibility and to name the group, the second call was about the tape and its location, and the third call was to threaten to hand the tape to another network unless it was broadcast.

The witness was also shown a document containing a series of text messages sent and received by his phone on 14 February 2005, including text messages sent and received from the previous witness (the editor).

[Document with sms content used during the testimony of witness PRH115 – screenshot]

The Defence is questioning the witness about a number of phone calls he made in the weeks before and after the bombing that killed Hariri, as they believe some of the individuals he contacted might have been implicated in the operation to kill Hariri or in the operation to hide the responsibility of those who carried out the attack.

This witness doesn't remember much detail of what happened on 14 February 2015 and had to be taken to his previous statements to recollect the events. More than 10 years have passed since the assassination of Hariri, and this witness, like many other witnesses before this court, had memory difficulties. As the witness explained ‘Today I do not remember. Now the statement is in front of me, I've signed this statement, thus what I said at the time was true.’ This is an additional challenge for the Prosecution and especially the Defence in deducing evidence from witnesses and confronting witnesses with inconsistencies in their evidence.

Witness PRH430: The producer (13 July)
In early 2005 the witness worked in television production for Al-Jazeera in Beirut. After the attack, the witness went to the scene of the blast to direct the cameraman (in the absence of the correspondent) and to point him at what he should be filming; he also went to arrange live coverage from the crime scene with the headquarters in Doha. The witness took the footage back, and once the footage had been transmitted to Doha, he returned to the office. At the office the witness answered the landline, with a man speaking Arabic (an Arabic closer to classical Arabic, not spoken by Lebanese) asking to speak to Ghassan Ben-Jeddo, and the witness immediately handed over the phone to Mr Ben-Jeddo. That was the only call that he answered, and as far as he was aware the tape was at the office and the caller was inquiring why it had not yet been broadcasted. The witness further clarified that this was the third call; according to the Prosecution's theory the witness therefore spoke to either the accused Sabra or the accused Oneissi.

Jul 16, 2015

Witnesses about the Mitsubishi Canter allegedly used to carry the bomb

In the first weeks of June (4-5, 10, 15-17 June) the Prosecution called a number of witnesses that gave evidence about the Mitsubishi Canter. These witness all received protective measures, and nicknames were used in court to address these witnesses. PRH063 is the first witness and is referred to as ‘the salesman’. PRH075 is named ‘the owner’ of the Mitsubishi Canter, PRH459 is ‘the office manager’ and witness PRH041 is ‘the labourer’ who worked at the premises of ‘the salesman’.

PRH063: ‘The salesman’
Witness PRH063 is a businessman based in the Tripoli area of Lebanon. The business premises of the witness were used to sell vehicles. He allowed other people to sell their vehicles at his premises. They would then pay a commission or a fee connected to a successfully completed sale. The witness recalls that he normally would have pickup trucks belonging to others or himself in his car yard. The majority was imported from the Emirates, mainly from Sharjah and Dubai. ‘The labourer’ worked alongside him. The ‘brother of the owner’ also had a business premises very close to the witness.

The Mitsubishi Canter was owned and imported by PRH075. The witness doesn’t remember the details, but in general terms this truck weighs 2 tons and is a right-hand-drive. He does recall the persons that bought the Mitsubishi Canter. ‘The labourer’ dealt with these two men at first. At one moment they came to the witness and asked him the price. He told them that the car would cost $11.500, upon which the buyers asked for a decrease. The witness called ‘the owner’, who told the witness that he could reduce the price by $250. They eventually agreed on the price: $11.250. They immediately wanted to sign all papers. The owner arrived with the papers, talked with the two persons and the sale was done; the payment was made in cash. This is normal in this type of business, the witness said that 95% of the clients pay in cash. The owner asked the witness to write a receipt and handed it over to the buyers. The buyers didn’t sign a receipt or contract. The witness wrote the following on the receipt: “Received from Mohammed El-Masri”, although they didn’t ask for identification. There was also some confusion about the names the buyers of the Mitsubishi Canter had given. First they said Mohammed Masri and Khaled Masri. The witness wrote El-Masri down and the two persons explained this was wrong. The right family name would be Nasri, but there was no need to change the receipt as they paid in cash. A telephone number appears on the receipt, given to the witness by one of the buyers. It was normal practice of the witness and ‘the owner’ not to register any sale information.

The witness describes the two men as being around 30 years old and speaking ‘the usual dialect’ (referring to someone from the Koura area in Lebanon). There was a big difference in length: one of them was approximately 175 centimeters, the other 15 centimeters shorter. The tall man was not fat, the shorter one was ‘plumpy’. They wore ordinary clothes, and left after 30-45 minutes in the car they had bought. The witness didn’t see them since then. The sale occurred on 25 January 2005; the witness deduced this from his receipt book and discussions with the other witnesses who will give evidence about the Misubishi canter, and will also confirm this date.

PRH075: ‘The owner’
PRH075 is the man who purchased the Mitsubishi Canter in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as part of a group of perhaps five or six vehicles that were brought overland on the back of a lorry and were delivered to premises in Lebanon. Ultimately, these vehicles were placed in the showroom area run by ‘the salesman’.

The witness testifies that during the period of 2004-2005 he imported vehicles to Lebanon, mainly from the UAE. The witness was a partner of ‘the salesman’, and the witness would put some of his vehicles in his showroom. As to the Mitsubishi Canter the witness does not remember the travel details. The Prosecution shows the witness the invoice for the shipment of the vehicles from the UAE to Lebanon, including the chassis number, the type and model of the pickup and the other vehicles bought. The invoice is dated 6 December 2004 . The Mitsubishi Canter truck was bought by the witness, and shipped from the UAE to Lebanon.

The Prosecution also introduces an export certificate from Sharjah issued by the UAE Ministry of Interior, Sharjah Police, Traffic and Licensing Division. The invoice is registered in the name of the brother of the owner. The chassis number that appears on both documents is FE52CE5606019 and refers to the Mitsubishi Canter truck. The engine number on the document (4D33J01926) is the same number that appears on the fragment of engine block recovered from the scene of the explosion by the witness Mr Kuitert (click here to read our blog about his testimony). These numbers are probably written by the clearing office in Lebanon. A third exhibit is headed “settlement processes to acquit customs bonds”, listing the five vehicles with 19 December 2004 as an entry date for Tripoli. The witness also gives a description of the Mitsubishi Canter.

At the day of the sale ‘the salesman’ called the witness on his mobile phone and told him that there was a customer for the vehicle. At that moment the witness was at the shop/garage from his brother. The witness thinks he contacted ‘the office manager’ and told him to give the paperwork for this specific car. When the witness arrived at the salesman’s premises he met with the potential buyers. There were in total five persons at the showroom: the two buyers, himself, the salesman and the laborer. He gave the paperwork to the salesman and eventually he counted the money and asked the salesman to prepare an invoice. The buyers paid $11.250 in cash. In total the witness spent 20-25 minutes at the premises of the salesman. He stated that he left before the purchasers. The witness also gives a description of the two buyers, although the Prosecution clarifies that it does not have any evidence that one of the accused bought the car.

PRH041: ‘The laborer’
The Prosecution gave a summary of the statement of PRH041, which is tendered into evidence. This witness was working in the showroom of ‘the salesman’. His duties ranged from cleaning and parking the cars, jump-starting dead batteries, and other odd jobs as required. PRH041 does not recall the day the Mitsubishi Canter was delivered to the showroom. However, he described the standard procedure whereby new vehicles are cleaned, polished and prepared for display in a workshop owned by witness PRH075 (‘the owner’).

‘The salesman’ told the witness that the vehicle belonged to ‘the owner’. The witness gives a description of the Mitsubishi Canter. To his recollection the vehicle was in a very good condition. However, there were no other buyers specifically interested in the Mitsubishi truck before it was purchased. On the day of the sale the witness was inside the office when ‘the salesman’ was with the two buyers. ‘The salesman’ asked the witness to bring him the vehicle keys; the witness opened the doors of the vehicle and handed the keys over to ‘the salesman’. He also recalls pulling forward the cabin which hinges so they could see the engine. The witness only saw the purchasers for a few seconds. The purchasers immediately bought the vehicle and drove off together in the direction of Beirut.

PRH459: ‘The office manager’
Witness PRH459 was the person in charge at the company owned by the owner’s brother. He began to work for him in 1999. The business had two branches. The brother of the owner assigned the witness to do all the business transactions for the one branch - and a few transactions for the other branch - relating to buying, selling, writing receipts and bills and handing over documents. The company dealt in Japanese-made vehicles, such as pickups, buses, and bulldozers, and second-hand parts for these vehicles. In terms of record-keeping, the business registered the new vehicles that were imported and then struck-out the name of each sold vehicle without recording its price or the name of the buyer. Such papers were destroyed when the business was done with them.

In December 2004, the brother of the owner imported five trucks to Lebanon of which three belonged to the owner (PRH075), including a white Mitsubishi canter vehicle. The canter was displayed and sold at the car lot of ‘the salesman’. The witness and ‘the salesman’ found among the witness’ documents a receipt book with an undated stub numbered 2746 showing that the Mitsubishi Canter was sold by the owner for $11.250 to Mohammed and Khaled El-Masri. The witness recalled ‘the owner’ coming to see him on a day around noontime and asking for the papers of the Mitsubishi Canter in the witness’s files. The owner told the witness that he had reached an agreement with a client who wanted to buy the vehicle at the car lot of the salesman. After receiving the papers, ‘the owner’ left on foot towards the car lot of ‘the salesman’.

The witness wrote a note that a white Mitsubishi Canter with a slim cabin owned by witness PRH075 was sold for 10.500 dirhams on a diary desk block note to issue the relevant invoice and to debit it to the account of the brother of the owner. The witness informed the brother of the owner of the matter and he approved it. He incorrectly issued an invoice for the Canter in the name of another person because the witness had forgotten how the pickup was sold and the person named in the invoice was a regular client.

This completes witness evidence about the sale of the Mitsubishi Canter that was used in the bomb attack. The next evidence to be heard will be from a number of employees of Al-Jazeera, the news agency that was contacted with the false claim of responsibility.

Jul 13, 2015

Evidence by police officers part of Hariri’s convoy: The corporal and the soldier

On 2, 3 and 4 June two officers of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF), both members of the team that was protecting the convoy of Rafik Hariri were called to the stand, testifying under protective measures. Other members of this convoy, who were previously heard by the Tribunal, were all civilian employees/personal bodyguards of Hariri (click here for a summary of their previous testimony).

The first witness, witness PRH357, was a corporal in the ISF; he will be called the ‘corporal’ when other witnesses are referring to him in court. The witness worked in the advance team, which had as a purpose the protection of the convoy of Hariri and to prevent any vehicles from getting closer to the convoy. The witness was inside the convoy and he accompanied Hariri in Lebanon and on one or two occasions to Syria. They used ISF vehicles and Mercedes vehicles; the majority of Hariri’s guards were in Mercedes vehicles. Two weeks before the assassination, Hariri bought a Land Cruiser; the ISF had taken all ISF cars that were given to him, as Hariri had stopped acting as prime minister. At the same time, the explosive experts and all other personnel or military staff securing his protection were taken away, and only eight ISF members remained for his protection. The witness was one of these eight ISF members, which were personally chosen by Hariri. Hariri used to drive his own vehicle, and normally four ISF members were with him in the convoy. The directions that the witness received were coming from the ‘adjutant’, another witness (PRH009) before the STL, who used to receive his information from Hajj Talal, Mohammed Diab or Abu Tareq al Arab.

During the days and weeks before 14 February, Hariri was not at ease as there were threats against him, and they were very careful and afraid. About 15 days before the assassination, Rustom Ghazaleh had visited the Quraitem with a huge convoy and in an unusual fashion, and they threatened Hariri. The Syrian security officers “came down very fiercely, as if they were coming to kill or kidnap Prime Minister Hariri.” The witness heard one of the bodyguards telling that Rustom Ghazaleh had told Hariri “if you make a mistake, we will kidnap your daughter’’. A few weeks before the assassination, the witness made a trip with Hariri to visit the President of Syria.

On 14 February 2005, after Hariri had visited the parliament building, the convoy took the Fosh street, they reached the military base and they drove towards the north; they were told by Hajj Talal to take the Maritime road, and Hajj Talal was very angry and said "Keep your weapon in the hand and put it on fire, because anyone who gets near the convoy, shoot them because the situation is not good." During the movement of the convoy the witness and his colleagues tried as much as possible to keep people away from the convoy.

The witness confirmed that the order in which the convoy travelled that day was first a black Toyota Land Cruiser , followed by four Mercedes vehicles - the second of which was Mr. Hariri's personal car - and at the rear a blue Chevrolet Suburban vehicle which was used as an ambulance. The four ISF officers were in the Land Cruiser, that is the witness (the ‘corporal’), the ‘soldier’, the ‘adjutant’ and the ‘driver’. The witness explained that he thinks the jamming equipment of the other cars in the convoy was working properly as it was causing the alarms of the cars parked in the streets to go off; all cars in the convoy were equipped with wireless equipment to communicate as normal phones would not work. When they reached the St. George area, the witness did not see anything unusual; there was a yellow truck with an old man who had a very heavy metal load and was driving very slowly, and he was told to move to the right. After he parked, the explosion happened. According to the witness, the explosion happened about 40-50 metred behind his vehicle, with his vehicle being pushed forward by the force of the blast from behind. The witness left the car, and saw his colleague the 'adjutant'. The witness described what he saw:

“Right after the explosion, the crime scene was covered by white smoke. Then about ten seconds later, we saw fire and flames. (…) So I saw the colleagues caught on 23 fire, and I ran to the car -- towards the car of the Prime Minister, and I saw that the car was caught on fire and the Prime Minister was not inside the car.” (…) “At first I did not see him inside the car because he was thrown outside the car.” “I saw his body on the floor. I carried him with another rescuer from the rescue teams, and we were -- later on by another military staff, Mahmoud Hallak, so we were three to carry him until we reached the ambulance which took him later on 1 to the hospital.”

The witness tried to help several other victims at the crime scene whilst his feet were bleeding, and only after being questioned by General Hajj at the ISF headquarters he was taken to the hospital.

During cross-examination, Defence counsel Mr Mettraux questioned the witness about the relationship between General Hajj and Hariri. Before Mr Hajj became the head of the ISF, he worked for Hariri. At some stage he was removed from his position in Hariri’s security arrangements because it became apparent that General Hajj was spying on Hariri. The witness heard that he was giving instructions to the Syrian military intelligence. Hajj was the one that ordered the significant reduction of Hariri’s security apparatus from 40 to 8 sometime between December 2004 and January 2005. The reduction had a great effect. The marked police cars and explosives experts were taken away from the team, which provided additional protection. The explosives experts, accompanied by their trained dogs, used to search the routes before the prime minister moved. According to the witness they are the most important part of a convoy and they would have been able to identify several hundred kilos of explosives parked on a truck around the corner. Further, in November 2004 Mr. Hajj cancelled measures to detect threats towards Hariri. In January 2005 the ISF also removed patrol cars from the Phoenicia/St. Georges area where the attack took place.

During cross-examination the witness was further questioned about what happened after the attack. The witness stated that within 15 minutes he saw Mr. Khaled Alywan, accompanying General Hajj, at the crime scene. Mr. Alywan was in the intelligence section of the ISF. Mr. Alywan took the witness’s weapon and the bodyguards of General Hajj put the witness in a car. The witness was brought to the headquarters of the ISF, where he was questioned. Most questions were about Wissam El-Hassan, which the witness found strange as he was an eye-witness of the attack. They didn’t offer the witness any medical assistance, but after thirty minutes of questioning they dropped him close to the American University Hospital. After that the witness went to Quraitem Palace.

The other ISF witness to testify, PRH149 is a companion and colleague of witness PRH357, who also was chosen to be kept in the reduced group of eight persons for the close protection of Hariri. In court he will be referred to as the ‘soldier’. Before the reduction of the apparatus securing Hariri, the witness was assigned to check the itinerary of the prime minister. Together with 18-20 people he used to search the areas for explosives, organised the pass way, posted people and controlled the traffic in those areas. He was in an advance party ahead of the actual convoy. After the reduction of the team, the witness became a member of the protection team in the convoy. Because General Hajj didn’t buy them a military car, Wissam El-Hassan brought them a Land Cruiser. They used to travel in the Mercedes vehicles used by Hariri’s personal civilian bodyguards.

The witness testified that the Maritime route was from a security point of view the best route to take. If you wanted to go to Quraitem Palace, you either have to take Hamra Street or the Maritime route. In Hamra Street there is always a lot of traffic and that’s why the convoy decided to take the Maritime route on 14 February 2005. This witness was one of the four ISF members in the very first car of the convoy (the Land Cruiser). The 'adjutant' gave the orders to take the journey along Foch Street towards the marina and the St. Georges Hotel. The witness said it was a perfectly normal trip and he did not feel anything unusual. The jammers were working for sure, as when they started to move the convoy the radio was intercepted. During cross-examination, the witness told the court that at the moment the convoy passed the St. Georges Hotel, he looked to the right as he was supposed to monitor the right sector. He didn’t see any double-parked cars. He also stated that he didn’t see a Mitsubishi Canter.

When the explosion occurred, it was impossible for the witness to see anything. He noticed that the car’s engine broke down, the glasses were destroyed and the body of the car was dented. The driver lost consciousness and the car continued its way forward for a while until it stopped by the sidewalk. The witness was seated on the right side of the vehicle, right behind the 'adjutant'. After a few minutes he saw the body of Mr. Hariri on the ground. This was approximately ten minutes before Mr. Bahaa arrived. He also saw Mr. Bassel Fuleihan caught on fire. After that the witness brought injured witness PRH076 to the hospital.

Answering questions of the legal representative of the victims Mr Haynes, the witness explained that he stayed approximately one hour at the scene after the bomb detonated. It took about three-quarters of an hour before any emergency services, ambulances and the like turned up, because no one could arrive at the crime scene. The witness was injured, his hands, legs and head were hit. He was in shock.


The next Prosecution's witnesses will be related to the purchase of the canter vehicle, and subsequently some journalists dealing with the false claim of responsibility. The Prosecution hopes to complete this area of evidence in late July or immediately after the recess, then moving to the telecommunications evidence.