The United Nations' Special Tribunal for Lebanon opened its first public hearing on Tuesday, as a former Lebanese general sought the right to request information from the court in support of a libel case.
Jamil El Sayed is one of four pro-Syrian security generals who had been held since 2005 in connection with the killing of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.
The court was founded to investigate and prosecute those responsible for his death.
The generals were ordered released by the Dutch-based tribunal in April 2009 because of a lack of evidence. El Sayed is now seeking 'legal remedy' from the court and pursuing evidence from it "related to the crimes of libellous denunciations and arbitrary detention."
Tuesday's hearing was not about the merits of El Sayed's request, but rather whether the court even had the jurisdiction to hear it and whether he had the legal standing to make the request in the first place.
"The Applicant does not have a full list of the people and the facts that were used to justify his arbitrary detention," Sayed's lawyer Akram Azoury told the court, arguing that the preservation of Sayed's rights meant the court had to allow his request to proceed.
But prosecutors told the court that its mandate limited it to matters linked to prosecuting terrorism and specifically to issues around Hariri's death, leaving it without the jurisdiction to hear Sayed's request.
And even with jurisdiction, the prosecutors said, Sayed had no standing to even appear before the court because he is not and has not been an accused before the tribunal.
Judge Daniel Fransen, a Belgian, is expected to rule on the legal questions in the first half of September.
Hariri's assassination plunged Lebanon into its worst crisis since the 1975-90 civil war, and tensions around the tribunal and its mission have run high.
The court officially opened for business on March 1, 2009, four years after Hariri's death, but it has had a rocky start.
Its registrar, who oversees the court's administrative functions, resigned less than two months later. His replacement lasted only six months before resigning as well.
Its only previous hearing, conducted in temporary quarters without press or the public present, was related to the release of the generals last year. There are currently no other detainees.