Daniel Bellemare, pictured in 2009
The chief prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Canadian Daniel Bellemare sits at the the start of a landmark international tribunal to try the suspected killers of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2009 in the Hague. The chief prosecutor of the UN-backed special court probing the 2005 murder of Hariri announced that he will leave the post when his term ends in February. © Marcel Antonisse - AFP/ANP/File
Daniel Bellemare, pictured in 2009
AFP
Last updated: December 14, 2011

Hariri tribunal prosecutor to step down in February

The chief prosecutor of the UN-backed special court probing the 2005 murder of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri announced Wednesday that he will leave the post when his term ends in February.

"Daniel Bellemare has informed the Secretary-General of the United Nations that, for health reasons, he does not intend to seek reappointment for a second term as prosecutor at the end of February 2012," the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) said in a statement.

"While this long and difficult journey is far from over, solid foundations have been laid to achieve justice and accountability for the attack of 14 February 2005 and connected cases, through the rule of law," Bellemare added in the same statement.

The Canadian-born lawman was appointed chief prosecutor to The Hague-based tribunal in March 2009, after previously serving on the UN's commission to investigate the attack on Hariri on February 14, 2005.

On that day, Hariri and 22 others, including a suicide bomber, died in a massive car bomb blast in Beirut.

Arrest warrants for four operatives, members of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah Shiite militia have been issued by the court, but they have not yet been arrested.

The STL's former president, Italian judge Antonio Cassese died of cancer in October, days after stepping down from the post.

The tribunal's current president, Judge David Baragwanath, praised Bellemare's work and wished him a "prompt return to full health."

Tribunal Defence Office chief Francois Roux also lauded Bellemare, saying "despite our different points of view, I want to underline the prosecutor's resolve in the exercise of his difficult mandate."

Created in 2007 through a UN Security Council resolution on Lebanon's request, the STL opened its doors in 2009.

It is the first international tribunal which can hold trials in absentia.

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