Head of UN probe into Hariri murder has first meeting with Syrian president

25 April 2006

The head of the United Nations panel looking into last year's assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri today held his first meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The head of the United Nations panel looking into last year's assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri today held his first meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Serge Brammertz, chief of the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) which has already reported finding evidence pointing to both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in the bomb attack that killed the ex-premier and 22 others in Beirut, also met with Vice-President Farouk al-Shar'a in Damascus, the Syrian capital.

In a report to the Security Council in March, Mr. Brammertz said he had been promised a meeting with Mr. Assad during the upcoming month. In contrast to earlier problems with Syrian cooperation, he reported progress in this “critical area,” with a common understanding reached regarding access to individuals, sites and information.

The Security Council set up UNIIIC after an earlier UN mission found Lebanon's own investigation seriously flawed and Syria primarily responsible for the political tension preceding Mr. Hariri's murder.

In the latest report, Mr. Brammertz wrote that UNIIIC intended to request “full, unhindered and direct access” to documents, facilities and sites, as well as interviews with Syrian citizens.

Despite the cited progress, “it is important to note that the Commission will ultimately judge cooperation of the Syrian authorities on the merits of the information provided and promptness with which its requests are being accommodated,” he added.

 

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