During cross-examination of investigator Gary Platt at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Friday David Young, the defense counsel for Assad Sabra, focused on his client’s role in the alleged “false claim of responsibility.” The prosecution claims that, as part of the conspiracy leading up to the attack that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, several people – including Sabra – made efforts to frame a man named Ahmad Abu Adass for the attack. The alleged goal, according to the prosecution, was to direct attention away from the actual source of the conspiracy.
Much of prosecution’s case against those involved with the false claim, including Sabra, center around the Arab Open University Mosque in south Beirut, where they claim they identified Abu Adass as a suitable target.
As in other parts of the case, the prosecution has relied on cellphone data to establish the location of the five defendants at various points throughout the lead-up to the attack. In this case, the prosecution determined that Sabra and another defendant, Hussein Oneissi, had visited the mosque on several occasions.
However, during his cross-examination, Young claimed that the investigators had not done their due diligence when determining whether Sabra was simply in the area for innocent purposes.
“It was important for you [the investigators] to look for information as to whether the contacts of these users [phones attributed to Sabra and Oneissi] themselves had a connection to the Cola area, near the mosque. That was the point of the investigation,” Young said.
This would determine whether the suspects had pre-existing connections to the area that could explain the time spend there during the alleged conspiracy.
Young noted that, if Sabra and Oneissi had deep contacts with people in the Cola and Arab Open University Mosque area, it would not have been unusual for them to pay frequent visits.
In the end, Young said, the defense’s own investigation turned up seven numbers that spent significant time in the area but that the prosecution didn’t follow through with in the investigation.
“This simple exercise, we submit, simply demonstrates that these seven numbers were known to the prosecution,” Young said.
“We submit that this is something that is relevant,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate that this wasn’t apparent to the investigators.”
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon will resume on April 19.