UN team starts probe into assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister

25 February 2005

The United Nations Mission of Inquiry into last week's assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri began its work today with a meeting with top local officials and a pledge to work "with absolute impartiality and professionalism."

Peter Fitzgerald, a deputy Irish national police commissioner named by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to head the team after the Security Council requested him to report urgently on the circumstances, causes and consequences of the murder, held "warm and constructive meetings" with Interior Minister Suleiman Franjieh and Justice Minister Adnan Addoum to discuss cooperation. He also met with Mr. Hariri's sons.

"We fully understand the gravity of the task at hand and can assure all concerned that we will work with absolute impartiality and professionalism," he said in a statement before the meetings of the inquiry into the explosion that also killed 14 other people.

He promised that the team would carry out its mandate in a timely manner. Two other Irish national police officers, Chief Superintendent Martin Donnellan, head of the National Bureau of Investigation, and Superintendent Patrick Leahy, head of the National Support Services joined Mr. Fitzgerald in Beirut.

Mr. Fitzgerald said he would soon be joined by colleagues with expertise in law and political affairs.


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