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20 suspected in Hariri Murder | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Asharq Al-Awsat- With a few days remaining until UN investigator Detlev Mehlis submits his report into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Lebanon was anxiously awaiting its conclusions and readying itself for its repercussions, locally and regionally.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said earlier Monday he would wait until the German jurist hand over his report before considering an official Lebanese request issued last Thursday to extend the probe for a further two months.

“I have spoken to Mehlis but I will wait for his full report to be able to make a judgment whether to extend the mandate or not,” Annan said. “And if we do extend the mandate, what specifically will it entail and what will they need to do”, remains to be seen.

Annan is expected to obtain a copy of the report on Friday along with Security Council members.

Commenting on the likelihood of politicizing the report, as rumored in political and media circles, Annan told Asharq al Awsat, “I hope the report will not be political” and described it as technical. “I know there has been a lot of political commentary and lots of discussions about it but from where I sit, I am determined to make it as technical as possible and not allow a politicization of the process,” Annan said.

It is expected the Security Council will meet Mehlis behind closed doors, with the United Kingdom’s envoy, Sir Emyr Jones Parry, indicating the Council would study the report before agreeing on the necessary steps to take. “The next step would be to respond to the report but, until now, no one has a clear indication of what it will contain,” he said.

Despite the secrecy surrounding the report, senior Lebanese sources revealed that Mehlis, “has uncovered the truth and will name things as they are. He will present the facts backed by evidence from gathered from testimonies, events in the run- up to the murder and afterwards, and expert analysis of the scene of the crime and the area surrounding including the bottom of the sea. All this has reinforced the investigation and given it a chance to succeed.”

“The truth, known to the UN investigator only, has yet to be fully shared with Lebanese jurists. Mehlis told public prosecutor Judge Said Mirza and magistrate Judge Elias Eidof the headlines of the investigation but kept to himself the details and facts which will feature in the report presented to the Security Council on Friday,” the sources said.

According to the sources, Mehlis will discuss possible Syrian involvement in the assassination and will indicate that Damascus did not cooperate fully with the investigation as the regime subjected his team to constant supervision which hampered their work and the testimonies they obtained.

The UN investigator was expected to request the Security Council issue a resolution obliging Damascus to question Syrian officials outside Syria to try and match their testimonies with information in his possession.

Mehlis, the sources revealed, had given political and judicial figures in Lebanon a list of twenty suspects, including security officials, former politicians, and civilians, including Syrian officers. He recommended the men be arrested given their role in planning the murder and proposing Hariri be killed after attempts to isolate him politically, through elections, and judicially, by targeting those close to him, failed.

Also on Monday, French police announced the arrest of former Syrian intelligence officer Mohammed Zuhair al Siddiq, on a Lebanese warrant issued on October 13, 2005 . He was detained on Sunday for his alleged involvement in planning the assassination and is likely to be extradited.