Lebanon: UN probe names intelligence officers as suspects in ex-premier’s death

30 August 2005
Kofi Annan and Rafik Hariri (file photo)

The United Nations inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri identified three former heads of Lebanese intelligence and security agencies and a former member of parliament as suspects in the car bombing that also killed 20 other people, a UN spokesperson said today.

The Security Council set up the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) on 7 April to probe the bomb attack after an initial UN fact-finding mission found Lebanon's own probe seriously flawed and declared Syria, with its troop presence, primarily responsible for the political tension preceding the assassination.

On the orders of Commission head Detlev Mehlis and with the full cooperation of the Lebanese police, the homes and premises of the suspects – Brig Gen Raymond Azar, Maj. Gen Jameel al-Sayeed and Ali al-Hajj, as well as former member of parliament Nasser Kandil – were searched for evidence.

All the suspects have been interviewed, spokesperson Marie Okabe told the regular noon briefing in New York. A fifth person who was previously declared a suspect, Gen. Mustafa Hamdan, was summoned for a second interview.

Mr. Hariri's assassination in February 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. Syria withdrew its troops from its smaller neighbour in April.

The Security Council today welcomed any progress after being briefed on the latest developments by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari.

“The Security Council reiterates its call upon the international community to fully cooperate with the Commission,” Council President for August, Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, of Japan, said in a press statement, voicing the hoping that the Commission’s final reports “will solidly establish the facts which are fully supported by evidences.”


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