UN Legal Counsel meets leaders in Lebanon as part of support for Hariri probe

27 January 2006

The senior United Nations legal official met today in Lebanon with top leaders as part of a visit aimed at helping them identify the nature and scope of the international assistance needed to create a tribunal to try those charged with the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and others.

The Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Nicolas Michel, spoke with the President, Parliament Speaker, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, according to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

He said Mr. Michel “also had a substantive working session chaired by the Minister of Justice, Charles Rizk, which included the Prosecutor General and other senior members of the Lebanese judiciary.”

Mr. Michel “expressed his great appreciation for the positive and constructive atmosphere of all discussions,” the spokesman said, adding that the Legal Counsel “was encouraged by the broad commitment demonstrated to move ahead in the coming days and weeks.”

The visit follows up on Security Council resolution 1644, which acknowledged “the Lebanese Government’s request that those eventually charged with involvement in this terrorist attack be tried by a tribunal of an international character” and asked the Secretary-General to provide assistance towards that end.

Adopted last month, that text also expanded the mandate of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) charged with looking into the assassination of Mr. Hariri, who was killed in a 14 February 2005 blast that also took the lives of 22 others. The Commission, now headed by Serge Brammertz, will support Lebanese probes into other terrorist attacks perpetrated in the country since 1 October 2004.