1. Wide exterior of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL)
2. STL flag
3. STL sign
4. Set-up of STL spokesperson Maren Jusuf
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Marten Jusuf, Special Tribunal for Lebanon spokesperson:
"The significance of today's hearing is that one of the features of the tribunal is that the trial chamber can prosecute the four accused men in their absence, which are known as in absentia trials. What the trial chamber is doing today is listening for submissions from the prosecution and from the defence office to see whether they are convinced whether we should move into in absentia proceedings or not. The prosecution today have submitted arguments, they are requesting that three more months be given and that the Lebanese authorities would be invited here to The Hague to testify on efforts that they have taken to search and arrest the accused."
"The authorities have moved towards an understanding that these individuals will not be located and will not be arrested and that there will be a trial in absentia, and therefore trial in absentia notice provisions are applicable. But of course your honours haven't made decision yet that there will be trial in absentia proceedings. We are still at the phase where we should be actively looking for the four accused."
Prosecutors at a UN-backed court set up to try the suspected killers of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri told judges on Friday it is too early to stage a trial in absentia for four Hezbollah members indicted in the assassination.
The fact that judges at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in Leidschendam, the Netherlands are even considering a trial in absentia underscores the difficulty the court faces in having the suspects arrested in a country where the Iranian-backed Shiite militia Hezbollah is the most powerful force.
Hezbollah denies involvement in the February 14, 2005, truck bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others, including the suicide bomber, on a Mediterranean seafront boulevard in Beirut.
Hezbollah's arsenal far outweighs that of Lebanon's national army, and the group's leader has vowed he will never allow a Hezbollah member to arrested
for the killings.
Unusually for an international court, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's rules allow for the suspects to be tried in their absence if Lebanon fails to arrest them.
But prosecution trial lawyer Iain Morley said Beirut should be given more time to track down and arrest the suspects before judges order a trial in absentia.
Arrest warrants for the four were issued in June.
The four suspects include Mustafa Badreddine, a Hezbollah commander who is also the suspected bombmaker for the 1983 bombing of the US Marine barracks
in Beirut that killed 241 Americans.
The other suspects are Salim Ayyash, also known as Abu Salim; Assad Sabra and Hassan Oneissi, who changed his name to Hassan Issa.