The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) Monday (July 30th) reaffirmed its jurisdiction to try in absentia four men accused of killing former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, AFP reported.
Last month, defence lawyers sought to have the tribunal declared illegal, claiming the UN Security Council abused its powers when it set up the tribunal five years ago.
On Monday, tribunal judges said in a statement that the STL's trial chamber "dismissed the motions of the defence counsel, who argued that the tribunal was illegal, violates Lebanese sovereignty, has selective jurisdiction and does not guarantee the accused the right to a fair trial".
The judges said that because the UN can set up courts, "a tribunal […] such as the STL has been validly 'established by law'."
Earlier this month, the court set March 25th as a provisional start date for the trial of Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, also known as Abu Salim, Hassan Oneissi and Assad Sabra, all members of the Lebanese Islamist militant group Hizbullah.
The defendants are still at large but can be tried in absentia.