Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- Informed sources have revealed told Asharq al-Awsat that the international commission investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri received the transcript of a phone call conversation between a Lebanese official and his Syrian counterpart in which the former confirmed to the latter that the assassination had taken place.
The sources alluded to what was mentioned in commission chief Judge Serge Brammertz’s report on achieving a major breakthrough, and cited sources in the international commission that “the breakthrough came about by finding solid proof that periodic meetings were held between Lebanese and Syrian security officials and officials in a Lebanese group known for its allegiance to Syria, in addition to analyzing scores of phone calls held between security officials in that group, the Syrian intelligence center in Beirut, and an important official head office which German Judge Detlev Mehlis referred to in his first report.
The sources confirmed that “analysis of the phone calls, which began on the evening of Sunday 13 February 2005 and continued until 4 pm the following day–in other words, four hours after the crime took place–showed that most of the conversation revolved around the crime. In addition, the commission received the text of a very important phone call held between a high-ranking Lebanese official and his Syrian counterpart in which the former confirmed to the latter that the assassination had taken place and Al-Hariri had in fact been killed.”
The same sources pointed out that the international commission received the transcript of the phone call held between the two high-ranking officials from the British intelligence and that the content was the reason behind British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s statements one week after the crime that he believed Syrian sides are involved in Al-Hariri’s assassination. The Lebanese sources noted that the commission stepped up its activities upon the return of its chief Brammertz from New York after he presented his report to the Security Council.
They explained that Brammertz is trying to complete the biggest part of the investigations on the Lebanese level before setting a date for his meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Vice President Farooq al-Shara in Damascus.
The sources foresaw difficulties in Brammertz’s ability to complete the investigation before mid-June. The sources cited members of the international investigations commission saying that Brammertz does not want to extend his mission. The sources did not rule out the return of former commission chief Judge Detlev Mehlis to resume the investigations, particularly since the latter praised Brammertz’s report, describing it as professional and noting that it was on the same track and did not ignore any of the existing evidence in the file.