Expatica news

Belgian appointed to probe former PM’s death

12 January 2006

BRUSSELS — Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz has been appointed the new head of a UN probe into the killing of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri.

Brammertz, the deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, will replace German magistrate Detlev Mehlis. Mehlis stepped down last month when the investigation was extended beyond its original term of six months.

Before he worked at The Hague, Mr Brammertz, 43, was Belgium’s first federal prosecutor. He has also assisted the Council of Europe in fighting organised crime.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent a letter to the 15-nation Security Council, which authorised the Hariri investigation, telling them of his intention to appoint Brammertz.

Although the appointment was to have been announced a month ago, Annan delayed it as Brammertz first needed to assure governments who support the International Criminal Court (ICC) that his departure would not delay investigations in Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Brammertz would take a leave of absence from the ICC, which was set up more than two years ago to prosecute individuals suspected of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

He was appointed to his ICC position in November 2003 for a six-year term and has had experience in chasing down terrorists in Belgium.

The UN inquiry has implicated Syrian and Lebanese officials in the killing. A UN resolution has threatened further action unless Syria co-operates fully with the inquiry.

Brammertz will lead the International Independent Investigation Commission until its new mandate expires on June 15.

The UN will send a mission to Beirut to help the Lebanese government identify “the nature and scope of the international assistance for those charged with a crime to be tried by a tribunal of an international character”.

The UN will also consult the government on expanding the investigation to include a series of assassinations of anti-Syrian Lebanese opposition figures since Mr Hariri’s death.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news