German prosecutor a 'superstar' in Lebanon

2nd September 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 September 2005, BEIRUT - Veteran German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, who is investigating the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri on behalf of the U.N. Security Council, is becoming the talk of the town among the Lebanese.

2 September 2005

BEIRUT - Veteran German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, who is investigating the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri on behalf of the U.N. Security Council, is becoming the talk of the town among the Lebanese.

Mehlis, described by one analyst as a "German wolf who jumps on his prey one by one", increased his popularity after he arrested four of the top pro-Syrian security chiefs from the days of the pro-Syrian 'hegemony' in Lebanon.

"Mehlis is putting the puzzle together now and will reveal to the Lebanese the directed conspiracy that took place inside the closed doors of Lebanese intelligence," the investigative correspondent of the Lebanese daily Al Mustaqbel newspaper, Fares Khasaan, said.

"Those four security chiefs, three former and the current head of the Lebanese Presidential Palace guards, who are now in custody - none of the Lebanese judges would have had the courage to arrest them if there was no Mehlis in town," a judicial source told DPA.

"Those men ruled the security apparatus in the country ... in other words they were the untouchable figures in the country," Khasaan said.

Mehlis was appointed by the U.N. Secretary General in May as the commissioner of the International Independent Investigation Commission into the assassination of Hariri, who was killed along with 20 other people in a massive bomb blast on February 14 in a seafront area of the capital.

The German prosecutor was authorized by the United Nations to carry out the investigation after Lebanon's own inquiry was found to be "seriously flawed."

Tuesday's arrests were described as a major development in the probe into the blast that has been widely blamed on the former powerbroker in Lebanon, Syria, and its allies in the Lebanese government at the time.

Former General Security chief Jamil Seeyed, ex internal security head General Ali Haj, former army intelligence General Raymond Azar and head of the Presidential Palace guard, Mustapha Hamdan, were charged on Thursday by the Lebanese General Prosecutor, Saeed Mirza, with offences linked to murder, plotting and carrying out a terrorist act.

Mirza referred the four to Judge Elias Eid who started questioning them Friday. Following the questioning he will decide whether to issue formal arrests warrants against them.

Since Tuesday's arrests, Mehlis, who has been a German senior public prosecutor since 1992 and has over the course of his career been responsible for prosecuting terrorism and organized crime cases, has become the most famous man in the Lebanese public arena.

"I watched him (Mehlis) in the press conference on Thursday. I followed and took notes of every word he said. The puzzle is on its way to being solved and our German superstar will punish those who were behind the killing of premier Hariri," housewife Cossette abu Joudeh told DPA

"I did not go out with my friends to the beach, instead I watched Mehlis on television," Tara, a twelve-year-old Lebanese student, told DPA

All Lebanese were glued to their television sets Thrusday when Mehlis held a press conference to explain why he ordered the arrest of the previously "untouchable figures".

"Those arrested are believed to have helped in plotting the assassination," Mehlis said.

This was enough for the German prosecutor to convince the Lebanese that the investigation has reached "an important stage and the results will soon be released," journalist Khasaan said.

A judicial source believes that Mehlis has kept most of the crucial information to himself, giving the Lebanese only "some of the clues".

"Mehlis is keeping more surprises and will reveal them one by one," said Khasaan who also hosts an investigative programme on a station owned by the Hariri family.

"The truth is on its way and the German Wolf will give it all to us very soon," he added.

Hariri's killing on February 14 triggered massive opposition protest and heightened international pressure on Syria, which pulled its troops its troops out of the country in April after a three- decade military presence.

Elections were held in May and June which for the first time saw anti-Syrian politicians dominate parliament.

DPA

Subject: German news

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