President of UN's Hariri Tribunal Resigns on Health Grounds

Tribunal set up by UN to try suspects of 2005 car bomb assassination of former Lebanese PM; Sir David Baragwanath of New Zealand set to replace outgoing Italian president Antonio Cassese.

A United Nations-backed tribunal set up to prosecute the assassins of Lebanon's former prime minister has announced that its president has resigned, citing unspecified "health grounds."

Respected Italian judge Antonio Cassese announced his retirement Sunday, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon said in a statement Monday.


The tribunal was set up by the United Nations to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others, who were killed in a car bombing widely blamed on Hezbollah.

The Lebanese Shiite movement has denied any involvement in the assassination but four of its members were indicted earlier this year.

Sir David Baragwanath, a former judge on New Zealand's High Court and Court of Appeal, has been unanimously elected president of the tribunal and presiding judge of its Appeals Chamber, after being proposed by tribunal Vice-President Ralph Riachy and Cassese himself.

Cassese will continue to serve as a judge on the tribunal's Appeals Chamber, according to the statement published on the tribunal's website.

The tribunal president's tasks include oversight of its functioning and administration of justice, as well as representing the tribunal in its relations with states, the United Nations and other entities.