The tribunal, charged with prosecuting those responsible for the murder of the former Lebanese prime minister in 2005, may close due to lack of funds.
Lebanon has sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General to urgently examine ways to fund the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is in charge of investigating the 2005 murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in the face of funding difficulties.
“The Lebanese government would be grateful to Your Excellency for urgently exploring various and alternative ways of financing the tribunal with the Security Council and the member states,” said Hassan Diab, the country’s deputy prime minister, in the letter on Friday.
An exclusive report from Reuters news agency last week revealed that the UN tribunal, created by a 2007 UN Security Council resolution, ran out of funds amid the economic and political crisis in Lebanon, threatening plans for future trials.
The tribunal, funded 51 percent from voluntary contributions and 49 percent from the Lebanese government, could close after July if the funding shortage is not addressed.
Last year, the Hague-based tribunal convicted Salim Jamil Ayyash, a former member of the Shiite Hezbollah movement, in absentia for the bombing that killed veteran Sunni Muslim politician Hariri and 21 others. An appeal is filed against this judgment.
A second case was due to begin on June 16, in which Ayyash was prosecuted for another assassination attempt and other attacks on Lebanese politicians between 2004 and 2005.
But on Thursday the judges of the tribunal canceled the new trial because of the expectation of a closure.
Lebanon is in the middle of a deep financial crisis that threatens its stability.
The crisis that erupted in late 2019 has destroyed jobs, brought more than half of the population below the poverty line and undermined around 90 percent of the value of the currency.
Rafik Hariri’s son, Saad Hariri, is now Prime Minister-designate of Lebanon, but was unable to agree on a cabinet with President Michel Aoun, leaving the country in a state of political paralysis since last year.
“While we reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the STL, we firmly believe that these financial difficulties should not prevent them from completing their work,” said Diab.