UN calls on all countries for evidence in probe on Lebanese ex-premier's murder

UN calls on all countries for evidence in probe on Lebanese ex-premier's murder

The head of the United Nations probe into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri said today that any country failing to provide relevant information without delay will bear full responsibility "should we fail in our efforts to establish the truth" behind the murder, which led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from its smaller neighbour.

Detlev Mehlis, head of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) set up by the Security Council in April, told a news conference in Beirut, a day after his team officially began work, that the Lebanese Government, its ministries and its agencies had extended support and cooperation.

"The Commission will also have to be provided with any evidence and information, which may be in the hands of third countries," he added. "Let me point out very clearly that in its Resolution 1595 the Security Council of the UN called, and I quote, on all states and parties to provide the Commission with any relevant information they may possess pertaining to the crime."

The Council adopted the resolution after an initial UN fact-finding mission found Lebanon's own probe of the bomb attack which killed Mr. Hariri and 20 others in February, seriously flawed and declared Syria, with its troop presence, primarily responsible for the political tension preceding the assassination.

The attack led to renewed calls for the withdrawal of all Syrian troops and intelligence agents who had been in Lebanon since the early stages of the country's 1975-1990 civil war.

Asked whether he was going to interrogate Syrian intelligence or political officials, Mr. Mehlis replied: "We will definitely, and this is necessary with an investigation like this one, a crime like this one, we will of course interview everyone who was in one time or another responsible for the security in Lebanon at the time of the crime. I don't know if this answers your question but that's how precise I can be."