Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Saturday, Oct 22, 2005
Google



International
News: Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous | Engagements | Entertainment |
Advts:
Classifieds | Employment | Obituary |

International Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Hariri killing: Syria, Lebanon in the dock

Calls for Lebanese President's resignation; Syria alleges political frame-up behind U.N. report

UNITED NATIONS: Senior officials in the Syrian security services most likely approved the murder of former Lebanese Premier Rafiq Hariri, a U.N. commission probing the assassination has concluded.

The commission's report released on Thursday cited ``converging evidence'' of Syrian and Lebanese involvement and accused Damascus of blocking and misleading the investigation.

``There is probable cause to believe that the decision to assassinate ... could not have been taken without the approval of top-ranked Syrian security officials and could not have been further organised without the collusion of their counterparts in the Lebanese security services,'' the report said.

Quarrel with Syria

Hariri had quarrelled with the country's Syrian overlords and eventually resigned in October 2004, a month after Syria imposed a change in Lebanon's laws to extend the term of the pro-Damascus President Emile Lahoud.

The document was delivered to U.N. chief Kofi Annan by German magistrate Detlev Mehlis, who led the commission's four-month investigation into the massive bomb blast that killed Hariri and 20 others in Beirut last February.

It was also sent to the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council as well as to the Lebanese Government before being made public late on Thursday.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton called the commission's conclusions ``clearly troubling.'' In Lebanon, news of the report drew renewed calls for the resignation of Mr. Lahoud, who denied claims by the commission that he received a phone call from a key suspect minutes before the bomb blast that killed Hariri.

Damascus has strenuously denied any involvement in or prior knowledge of the murder, but the U.N. report said Syria's pervasive military intelligence presence in Lebanon made such denials ring hollow. ``It would be difficult to envisage a scenario whereby such a complex assassination plot could have been carried out without their knowledge,'' the report said.

``Many leads point directly towards Syrian security officials as being involved with the assassination,'' it said, calling on Syria to clarify ``a considerable part'' of the unresolved questions.

Describing Syrian cooperation with the probe as a matter of form rather than substance, the commission said a number of interviewees had even tried to deliberately mislead the investigation.

In particular, it noted that a letter addressed to the Mehlis panel by Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara proved to contain ``false information.''

The 54-page report noted that a number of witnesses had voiced fears that they would be harmed for cooperating with the probe.

The assassination, it said, was carried out by a group ``with an extensive organisation and considerable resources'' and had clearly been prepared over the course of several months.

The commission recommended that the investigation now be taken forward by the appropriate Lebanese judicial and security authorities.

Damascus rejects charge

An increasingly isolated Syria on Friday angrily rejected as false, unprofessional and politicised the U.N. report that accused Damascus of approving the assassination of Hariri.

Syrian Information Minister Mahdi Dakhlallah said the report was ``a political statement directed against Syria.''

The report was based on witnesses ``who are well known for their anti-Syria stands,'' Mr. Dakhlallah's office said, charging that the U.N. assessment lacked hard evidence and was based mainly on ``gossip.'' — AGENCIES

Printer friendly page  
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail



International

News: Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous | Engagements | Entertainment |
Advts:
Classifieds | Employment | Obituary | Updates: Breaking News |


News Update


The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | The Hindu Images | Home |

Copyright 2005, The Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu