Tuesday, September 20, 2005

UN Hariri killing probe investigator arrives in Syria

Reuters reports that the head of a UN inquiry into the death of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri has arrived in Syria to question officials.

It is not clear who Detlev Mehlis, head of the UN Commission investigating the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, will meet, but they are thought to include officers in Lebanon in the time of the February bombing which killed Hariri. the meetings will take place in secret locations.

The BBC says the meetings will take the investigation directly to the heart of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

A source quoted by Reuters news agency said Mr Mehlis has asked to meet eight Syrian officials in his initial investigation, including Rustom Ghazali, former head of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon and his senior aides.

Mr. Mehlis is also expected to interview Mr Ghazali's predecessor, Ghazi Kanaan, the current Syrian interior minister.

Mean while, four Lebanese generals - three former security chiefs and the current head of the Republican Guard all tied to Syria - have been charged in Lebanon in connection with the assassination.

Syria agreed last week to allow Mehlis's visit after being accused of not cooperating with the probe, which began in June.

Source: BBC, Reuters

Also:

Read Brian Whitaker's report on the investigation in The Guardian, 19 September 2005 here:

It is now almost beyond doubt that by the time the chief investigator, Detlev Mehlis, completes his work next month, he will have direct evidence that the assassination was orchestrated from Damascus. If so, the killing of Hariri will probably count as one of the most disastrous own goals in the history of international politics.

And also go here to read Paris Bureau Chief and Middle East Regional Editor for Newsweek Magazine Christopher Dickey's take on this article in his blog. You Can also find Mr. Dickey's own reports on this unfolding story.