Thursday, April 10, 2008

Key witness not missing after all

The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah reported today that they received a phone call from key witness Siddiq saying he has gone into hiding due to threats. Given that the French are stating they don't know his whereabouts, Siddiq must have little faith in the French police to protect him. And rightfully so since they didn't protect him in the first place.

In line with the confusion key witness Siddiq caused at the time right after the murder of Hariri when he made damaging statements, retracted them and made them again and got sued by the Lebanese government in the process, he has again been occupying the spotlights.

After many feared him dead, including his own brother, it seems he's still very much alive and ready to testify at the Hariri Tribunal. The fact that Siddiq's brother's accusations were printed in a Syrian newspaper, which are under tight state control, is an indication that even Syria didn't know whether or not he was alive. After all, why would they say Siddiq is dead, a claim that would be refuted the moment he opens his mouth, as has happened now?

So much for speculating about Syria's involvement. Then again, Siddiq was informed by Lebanese authorities about three attempts against his life. One can only assume Lebanon would have cc'ed the French on this and yet this was not reason enough for them to place Siddiq in a witness protection program.

So, let's see. We have had an incompetent prosecutor Brammertz, who "ought to be prevented from exercising any legal profession, so deleterious his performance has been in Lebanon over a full two years" according to one of Lebanon's top legal minds, Chibli Mallat. We have a successor, Bellemare, who seems to be repeating Brammertz' work without adding anything new and thus is effectively wasting two years of precious time.

What's more, he seems to be steering away from the political motivations behind the killing of Hariri and is now talking about a criminal network. On top of that, he has asked for a six month extension and has yet failed to indict anyone. He is certainly right that "justice can't be rushed", but there's much to say for timely justice as well.

And finally, we have France not protecting key witnesses who stay there thinking they'd be safe. It makes you wonder how much the international community really wants this tribunal to happen.

Oh yeah, almost forgot: there's Condi Rice saying that the USA has stopped all negotiations with Syria over the Tribunal. Key word here is 'stopped': this implies both countries were negotiating up until now about how to get Syria off the hook in return for concessions.


Jeha said...

Siddiq may be forgiven if he does not trust French authorities. Especially if, as you point out, the United States just "stopped" talking to the Syrians...

One is reminded of the fact of Shapour Bakhtiar, who was stabbed to death along with his secretary in 1991. The odd thing was that his body was not found until at least 36 hours after the three assassins left, in spite of the heavy police protection. The time delay allowed the assassins to escape, but a couple of the more complacent members of the team were caught by the Swiss. One of the ones captured by the Swiss was later acquitted.

Francine said...

Off topic: another key

An old key of the Kaaba of Mecca was sold at Sotheby's this week. Provenence key: Lebanon.
Estimate price 400.000/500.000 GBP.
It went for over 9 million GBP

Someone is celebrating more than the sun and clouds in Lebanon :)