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Hariri Murder Probe: UN Investigator Returns to Syria to Question Officials | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Damascus, Asharq Al-Awsat – The UN commissioner Detlev Mehlis returned to Syria on Wednesday, to the Monterosa resort close to the Lebanese- Syrian border, after spending Tuesday night in Beirut, and resumed his interrogation of Syria’s top officials amid a flow of rumors and speculations.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese investigating magistrate Elias Eid continued his investigation and ordered the arrest of three mobile phone dealers.

It is was not known whether the probe into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, on February 14, 2005, would continue in Syria into or after this weekend. Sources said the length of the mission was not pre-determined and would depend on content of the testimonies, given in Arabic, which will remain top secret, as Damascus did not want to affect the investigation.

Sources close to the probe said the German judge’s mission was surrounded by secrecy to ensure the safety of witnesses and their statements, given that “the devil is in the details”. Syrian officials, they revealed, were adamant that no leaks or misinformation occur, contrary to past interrogations in Lebanon.

The sources denied a lawyer was present at the meetings between Syrian officials, including those who held senior posts in Lebanon during their country’s presence in that country. A legal expert had attended the meetings for legal and technical reasons as the discussion centered on gathering testimony and not questioning suspects.

In Beirut, three shop owners selling mobile phones and equipment were questioned by Eid who ordered their arrest for hiding criminal information and forging official documents when the men sold mobile telephones to individuals suspected of using them in the murder. They are Majid Hassan al Akhras, Mustafa Talal Mastour, and Raed Mohammad Fakhreddine.

The men were transferred to Roumieh prison in Mount Lebanon, in a section especially prepared to house those involved in the assassination of Hariri, in close proximity to the cells of the four security officials arrested late last month, Jamil al Sayyed, Raymond Azar, Ali al Hajj, Mustafa Hamdan.

In its worth mentioning that Article 20 of the Syrian Penal Code states that the Lebanese courts are the only ones capable of requesting from their Syrian counterparts to question Syrian suspects and witnesses, according to a judicial agreement between the two countries.

As such, the UN Security Council cannot override the country’s laws, indicating the latest testimonies were given following a request from the Lebanese courts.