The last session of prosecution analyst Andrew Donaldson’s cross examination in front of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was delayed Thursday as lawyers argued over the admissibility of evidence to be presented. Dorothee le Fraper du Hellen, defense counsel for indicted suspect Hassan Merhi, hoped to question Donaldson a final time about call sequence tables linked to phones he had attempted to attribute to Merhi. The prosecution initially objected to the admission of these CSTs since they claimed their methodology had not been properly presented.
The debate raged for almost an hour as counsel for the defense and prosecution argued over whether or not the CSTs were admissible as evidence. President of the Trial Chamber Judge David Re intervened in the lengthy debate to remind the lawyers that Donaldson was still waiting to be called into the trial chamber. The analyst, Re said, was sitting “with snacks and water, but all alone” in the witness chamber waiting to be called in and so the judge sought to mediate a solution.
“The issue is incapable of resolution between parties, as the Chamber has urged. Therefore the Trial Chamber orders the defense to submit written submissions about methodology, including statements from witnesses to the prosecution,” Re said, providing the defense with an October deadline.
Fraper du Hellen then switched tactics, attempting to admit the call data records for the phones in question into evidence. These records represented too much data, Senior Trial Counsel for the Prosecution Alexander Milne argued. “If we were to print that out, it would fill a warehouse.”
“The Chamber won’t entertain that notion. [We’re] not going to admit call data records into evidence,” Re told Fraper du Hellen.
The defense counsel attempted to argue that it would only be data relating to the phones in question, which would not be as large a quantity as the prosecution alleged.
“Nice try, but we’re against you,” Re said firmly.
Donaldson has written extensive reports for the prosecution attempting to attribute to the indicted suspects cell phones allegedly used to plot the 2005 Beirut bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others. Given a lack of further questions Thursday, the prosecution witness was let go.
“After vigorous discussion, the re-examination has been withdrawn. [The defense] has no further questions [for you]. That’s the good news,” Re said to Donaldson. “There is no bad news for you today, only that we had to keep you that long.” The judge praised the witness’s professionalism and patience with the Trial Chamber.
“We thank you very much. You spent 37 days in cross-examination, your tour of duty has been above and beyond the call of duty. It takes a mental toll sitting in this windowless courtroom with the parties hauling questions at you, thinking you’re under attack. It can feel that way. You put in a lot of work. Thank you again,” Re said.
“Thank you for your patience,” Donaldson replied before leaving.
The Trial Chamber wrapped up loose ends regarding minor documents – corrections to powerpoint slides being admitted into evidence, for instance – before adjourning early. The trial is set to continue Nov. 8.