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UN investigator returns to Beirut - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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BEIRUT (Reuters) -Chief U.N. investigator Detlev Mehlis returned to Lebanon on Tuesday, preparing to wrap up his inquiry into the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

German prosecutor Mehlis has until December 15 to report back to the U.N. Security Council on his findings into the assassination of Hariri by truck bomb in Beirut in February.

He has yet to get the full cooperation of Syria despite a Security Council resolution last month threatening further action against Damascus if it does not do so.

Mehlis held talks with a Syrian official in Spain last week but could not agree on a venue to question six top Syrian officers over the murder. Diplomats say Mehlis might go back to the Security Council before December 15 if Syria does not cooperate.

Mehlis has insisted on questioning the six Syrians in Lebanon — where he has the power to detain suspects — but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has refused.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan made calls last week to Assad in search of agreement on a location where Mehlis could question the officials.

Mehlis ultimately rejected the compromise proposed by Assad and Annan — that he use U.N. offices in the Golan Heights.

Discussions on a venue in a third country are continuing.

The six military and intelligence officials include Assad”s brother-in-law and head of Syrian military intelligence, Major General Assef Shawkat.

In an interim report last month, Mehlis implicated senior Syrian and Lebanese officials in the murder. Syria denies any role.

Four pro-Syrian generals are currently under arrest in Beirut on charges of planning the murder. Investigators earlier this month questioned Lebanese President Emile Lahoud for six hours.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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