UN investigator into Lebanese PM’s assassination meets Syrian officials

23 February 2006

The head of the United Nations investigation into last year’s assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri held his first meeting in Damascus with Syrian officials today, a UN spokesman said.

Serge Brammertz, who leads the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) into the February 2005 bombing that also killed 22 other people, is now back in Beirut, the spokesman told reporters in New York.

“The Commission said that Brammertz had a good and constructive meeting in Syria. The discussion focused on cooperation on pending, new and future requests,” said spokesman Stephane Dujarric, adding that Syria’s Foreign Minister was among those involved in the meeting.

In related news, Mr. Dujarric said that the Lebanese Government had sent two senior judges to New York to continue discussions with the UN Secretariat on the nature and scope of international assistance needed for those charged with Mr. Hariri’s killing “to be tried before a tribunal with an international character.”

Mr. Brammertz was named to head the IIIC in January, succeeding Detlev Mehlis who had led the Commission since it was set up in May 2005 after a UN mission found Lebanon’s earlier investigations flawed and Syria primarily responsible for the political tension preceding the murder.

When naming Mr. Brammertz IIIC chief, Secretary-General Kofi Annan reiterated his “unwavering commitment to support the work of the Commission to fulfil its mandate to assist the Lebanese authorities to bring to justice the perpetrators of this crime.”

The IIIC’s latest report, released in December 2005, said that converging evidence pointed to both Syrian and Lebanese involvement in the crime, described 19 unidentified suspects of both nationalities and urged improved Syrian cooperation with the probe.


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