UN chief investigator Detlev Mehlis back in Beirut

1st November 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 November 2005, BEIRUT - The U.N. team investigating the February murder of five-time Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri was back in Beirut Tuesday one day after the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded better cooperation from neighbouring Syria with the investigation.

1 November 2005

BEIRUT - The U.N. team investigating the February murder of five-time Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri was back in Beirut Tuesday one day after the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded better cooperation from neighbouring Syria with the investigation.

U.N. chief investigator Detlev Mehlis was back at work in Beirut after flying into the city Monday evening as the resolution was being passed in New York, Lebanese security sources said on condition of anonymity.

"His arrival took place under heavy security measures and secrecy," the sources said.

The U.N. resolution said Syria had provided only a "limited degree" of cooperation or tried to mislead or provide "false and inaccurate" information to a U.N. investigative panel led by German prosecutor Mehlis.

"At this important time, the U.N. is holding Syria accountable for any further failure to cooperate with the commission," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. She warned of "close links" between Syrian cooperation and further U.N. action.

The resolution ordered governments to impose travel bans and freeze the assets of any Lebanese and Syrian officials or other people to be declared suspects in the killing.

Mehlis and the Lebanese government are expected to provide the names of suspects to a U.N. panel which can order the sanctions.

The resolution was adopted under the U.N. Charter's Chapter 7, which allows the use of force, even though the text was watered down in order to gain the unanimous support of council members.

Before the vote, earlier references to an economic embargo against Syria and a demand for Damascus to renounce terrorism were dropped from the text.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora welcomed the new resolution, saying, "I hope our Syrian brothers will now match words with deeds and cooperate fully with the international inquiry."

He expressed "satisfaction" with the resolution even though it had been watered down from earlier drafts circulated by Britain, France and the United States, saying it would help the inquiry.

He also raised the possibility that the commission's mandate might be extended beyond its current December 15 expiry date "if the Lebanese government requests it".

Mehlis's team was already given one three-month extension to allow it more time to complete its investigation, and in particular to interview senior Syrian officials.

Seniora's government is Lebanon's first not dominated by Syria since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

DPA

Subject: German news

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