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On second anniversary of journalist Gebran Tueni's murder, RSF urges UN to extend international tribunal's mandate

(RSF/IFEX) - On the second anniversary of newspaper editor Gebran Tueni's murder, Reporters Without Borders has said the special international tribunal created by the United Nations to try those responsible for former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri's assassination should also have jurisdiction over the other car-bombings in Lebanon since October 2004.

The press freedom organisation also wrote to Daniel Bellemare, the Canadian judge recently appointed by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to take over as head of the international commission investigating the Hariri assassination who will soon be the tribunal's prosecutor.

"The list of bombings in Lebanon keeps getting longer without those responsible being brought to trial by any court, Lebanese or international," Reporters Without Borders said. "It seems that solving the Hariri assassination is the only way to shed light on all the other cases. The new international tribunal created by the UN should be assigned all these cases so that justice is finally rendered. This is what the families of the victims are demanding."

The Tueni family lawyer, Ziad Baroud, told Reporters Without Borders he had confidence in the Lebanese investigation into the Tueni murder, and regarded it as "serious." He said there was "no doubt" in his mind about "the connections between the bombing that killed Rafiq Hariri and the other bombings." He added that the Lebanese and international probes needed to be merged so that those responsible can be "tried before the most appropriate court."

In its letter to Judge Bellemare, who will take over as head of the international commission on 1 January 2008, Reporters Without Borders spoke of the need to continue cooperating with the Lebanese authorities as regards the investigations into the murders of Tueni and newspaper columnist Samir Kassir, and the attempted murder of TV presenter May Chidiac.

Tueni, Kassir and Chidiac were all the targets of unsolved bombings in 2005. Tueni, the publisher and editor of the Arabic-language daily "An-Nahar" and parliamentary representative for Beirut, was killed by car-bomb on 12 December 2005. Kassir, a columnist with Tueni's newspaper, was killed by a bomb planted in his car on 2 June 2005. Both well-known and respected journalists, Tueni and Kassir knew their lives were in danger after Hariri's assassination on 14 February 2005. Chidiac, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation's star presenter, was badly injured when her car was blown up on 25 September 2005.

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