Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Probe of Hariri Assassination to Continue | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

UNITED NATIONS, AP -A new report from a U.N. team probing the assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister will make no new revelations and will ask for another year to keep working, U.N. diplomats said Friday.

The report from Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz’s investigators will note that Syria — which had been accused of obstructing the probe — has cooperated in some respects, the diplomats said.

Some senior-level Syrian officials have been implicated in the Feb. 14, 2005 bombing that killed Rafik Hariri and 22 others, they said.

The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because Brammertz’ report has not been made public. It is expected to be delivered to Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council on Saturday.

Earlier reports from the team investigating Hariri’s death have implicated Brig. Gen. Assaf Shawkat, Syria’s military intelligence chief and the brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Four top Lebanese generals — key figures in Syria’s domination of Lebanon — have been arrested and charged with playing a role the killing.

The diplomats said that Brammertz’ latest report will view Syria more favorably than earlier ones, mostly because Syrian President Bashar Assad finally agreed to be interviewed by Brammertz in April after twice declining.

Brammertz was expected to brief the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, a day before his commission’s mandate expires. The council will consider extending his mandate by six months, as it has done previously, or accede to the longer, one-year request.

France will back his request for a yearlong extension, a French diplomat said, also on condition of anonymity.

Annan also supports giving him the time he needs, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“Obviously, the mandate is up to the Council to renew, but the secretary-general is determined to continue the cooperation with the Lebanese people on a number of fronts, including this one,” Dujarric said.

Other ambassadors have not made their position clear, though U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said in a speech in London Thursday that the United States wanted to give Brammertz all the time he needs.

Hariri’s killing provoked an international outcry that ultimately forced Assad to withdraw the Syrian army from Lebanon in April 2005, ending nearly three decades of military dominance of the country. Syria has denied involvement in Hariri’s death.