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The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is an international criminal tribunal underaking the prosecution, under Lebanese criminal law, of the persons responsible for the attack resulting in the assassination of Rafic Hariri, former Lebanese prime minister, and the deaths of 22 others, on 14 February 2005. The Tribunal is also referred to as the "Hariri Tribunal".

The Tribunal officially opened on 1 March 2009 and has primacy over the national courts of Lebanon. The Tribunal has its seat in Leidschendam, on the outskirts of The Hague, Netherlands, and a field office in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Its official languages are Arabic, French and English. The Tribunal is unique among international criminal tribunals in that it may hold trials in absentia. Further, it is the first international criminal tribunal to deal with terrorism as a distinct crime. The Tribunal's eleven judges, a combination of Lebanese and international judges, are appointed by the UN Secretary-General for a renewable term of three years.

The Tribunal's mandate was initially three years. However, there is no fixed timeline for the judicial work to be completed, so the Tribunal may be operational for several years. In January 2011, the Lebanese government collapsed when 11 cabinet ministers aligned with the March 8 alliance resigned following Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's refusal to reject the STL. Six months later a new government was formed composed of March 8 members and the former March 14's Progressive Socialist Party under Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

In March 2011, Antonio Cassese, then president of the STL, issued his second annual report on the operation and activities of the tribunal, in which he anticipated the completion of the bulk of the court’s work by 2015. “The end of investigations with a view to submitting indictments by 29 February 2012 would allow us to begin with maximum alacrity, already in this third year, at least pre-trial and some trial proceedings, thus being able to complete the core mandate of the Tribunal within a total of six years”, said Judge Cassese. The Prosecutor submitted an indictment on 17 January 2011 and filed an amendment to the indictment on 12 March 2011. The indictment was confirmed on 28 June 2011. After a review by the pre-trial judge, Daniel Fransen, the Tribunal submitted four confidential arrest warrants to the authorities of Lebanon on 30 June 2011. The names of the suspects were leaked. The four Lebanese citizens - Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra - are all members of Hezbollah and remain at large. In response to the indictments, the party's leader Hassan Nasrallah denounced the legitimacy of the Tribunal three, while Hariri's son, Saad, considered the indictments an "historic moment."

Before the STL was established, the assassination of Rafic Hariri was investigated for four years by the United Nations International Investigation Commission (UNIIIC). The UNIIIC’s role was to gather evidence and to assist the Lebanese authorities to conduct their investigations.

The United Nations investigation initially implicated high-level Lebanese and Syrian security officers in Hariri's killing. Damascus denied involvement. Four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals were detained by the Lebanese authorities for four years without charge in connection with Hariri's killing. One of the first acts of the Tribunal was to order the release of the generals after ruling that there was insufficient evidence to justify their detention.

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