Asharq Al-Awsat, Beirut- Judge Serge Brammertz, the newly appointed head of the UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, has informed Lebanese officials that the dossier handed over to him by his predecessor Detlev Mehlis contains enough information enabling him to identify those responsible for the murder and demand they stand trial.
According to informed sources, Brammertz indicated that he intended to complete his mission within the next two or three months and prepare a final report to the UN Security Council.
He also expressed hope the Lebanese judiciary would complete its work and chief investigating magistrate Judge Elias Eid would prepare a bill to indict those killers before the summer in order to hand over all the evidence to the international tribunal that will be set up to try the defendants. The UN has already began discussions with the government in Beirut on the nature of the tribunal, the identity o the judges, its venue and remit.
The Belgian judge believes that “Syria represents the principal obstacle for the UN commission since it has yet to give a clear and firm response as to whether it will cooperate in a constructive way with the international investigation team. Syria’s promises have yet to materialize and the statements of officials in Damascus are not matched by deeds. What is required is an answer to whether President Bashar Assad will allow the probe team to meet Foreign Minister Faruq al Sharaa and question his brother-in-law Asef Shawkat, head of military intelligence”, the sources added.
Brammertz is set to refuse a Syrian request to sign a protocol of cooperation with Damascus because he believes the text of UN Resolution 1636 is clear and stipulates that Syria should cooperate with the international probe.
Meanwhile, diplomatic sources at the UN headquarters have indicated that the investigation team “has recovered the voice recordings of Syrian officials that include threats to Prime Minister Hariri. These recordings are one of the most important peices of evidence in the investigation that [Former investigator] Detlev Mehlis wanted to keep confidential.”
The same sources predicted that the “Syrian leadership would have become aware of these recordings and was, therefore, preventing its officials from meeting with the investigators. It also considers the demand to question the leadership as an infringement on national sovereignty.”