The defense team in the trial of four Hezbollah members accused of murdering ex-premier Rafik Hariri in 2005 contested the legitimacy of the "absurd" evidence presented by the prosecution last week as "legally inadmissible" and called for it to be stricken from the court.
Making his first appearance in court since the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) began its trial Thursday near The Hague, defense lawyer Antoine Korkmaz on Monday said that it was impossible to verify the identities of those who used the phones from which tracking data was collected to form the crux of the prosecution's case.
"The prosecution presents something that remains something like an enigma, pieces of a puzzle chosen and selected to fit a theory they chose to support ... while all other theories were abandoned," he said.
"The so-called scientific foundation presented by the prosecution is, in fact, totally insignificant. These pieces of the puzzle do not fit. They lack reliability, consistency and credibility."
Over Thursday and Friday the prosecution argued that tracking data and call logs from mobile phones allegedly used by the suspects showed that they had stalked Hariri for months before the February 14 bombing that killed him and 21 others.
The prosecution also used telecom data to argue that the suspects had framed a man who was broadcast in a video claiming responsibility for the attack on behalf of an unknown jihadist group.
But Korkmaz on Monday reminded the court that the prosecution matched the phones to the suspects by cross sectional analysis and "logical deduction," and not through witness testimony.
"This is not actual evidence. It is indirect or circumstantial evidence. It is not legally admissible, and does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt," that the suspects were the ones using the phones in questions.
Hariri's murder was originally blamed on four Lebanese generals who were close to the Syrian government. Massive street protests in Lebanon coupled with international pressure led President Bashar al-Assad to pull his troops out of the country following a 29-year occupation.
Assad has denied any involvement in the murder, and on Monday accused the STL of being "politicized" during an interview with AFP, insisting it was created to "put pressure on Hezbollah."
The trial will resume on Wednesday.
(Source: The Daily Star)
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