Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- The U.N probe into the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri continued on Monday when UN investigator Detlev Mehlis met General Prosecutor Said Mirza and Magistrate Elias Eid.
In a related development, Lebanese judicial sources also told Asharq al Awsat that Eid had interviewed witnesses in the case early on Monday while Mehlis and his team were preparing a working plan to be used during the interrogation of six Syrian high-ranking officers he had summoned to the Montiverde Hotel, northeast of Beirut.
They are: President Bashar Assad’s brother in law, Asef Shawkat, head of Syrian military intelligence, Major General Bahjat Suleiman, former chief of internal security, Rustom Ghazaleh, former head of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon, his assistant in Beirut Colonel Jameh Jameh, Abdul Karim Abbas, head of the Syrian intelligence Palestinian department and telecommunications and Internet expert, Zafer Youssef.
Former MPs and cabinet members as well as officers in the Lebanese army were also believed to be on a list of Lebanese officials Mehlis was expected to question.
Despite prior arrangements, the meeting between the German investigator and Lebanese judges was held in Montiverde and not in the justice palace in Beirut. Informed sources indicated Mirza, Eid and Attorney General Joyce Tabet and Judge Ralf Riachi left their offices in Beirut and traveled in a single convoy to Montiverde where the met the UN probe team for four hours. The two parties" exchanged the latest information and discussed the latest procedures on the questioning of witnesses and suspects and the legal framework to try them”, according to the sources.
They agreed it was necessary to speed-up the investigation and complete the probe quickly, on condition laws and regulations were followed, especially each suspect”s right to be represented by a lawyer who would also be present during interrogation sessions, the sources added.
On the controversy surrounding the questioning of Syrian officials on Lebanese soil, the sources pointed out the meeting had discussed the issue “ since questioning the Syrian officers in Lebanon is not yet certain”. They added that Mehlis, who preferred to question them in Montiverde, did not rule out moving the interrogation to Cyprus if Damascus continued its opposition.
Meanwhile, former Minister and the lawyer representing Lebanese generals Mustafa Hmadan and Raymond Azar, arrested for their suspected role in the assassination, was expected to ask the Eid to rescind their arrest warrants and free them because of contradictory witness statements.
Also on Monday, the Association of Islamic Charitable Projects took legal against unknown individuals who suspected the group of being involved in Hariri’s murder through statements published in the local media.