UN rights chief eyes details of Bin Laden killing

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UN human rights chief Navi Pillay is keeping an eye on details of the US military operation that killed Osama bin Laden as they emerge from Washington, her office indicated on Wednesday.

Pillay underlined in a statement earlier that Al-Qaeda's leader had assumed responsibility for planned acts, including mass murder, that amounted to crimes against humanity.

"I note that the United States has clearly stated that their intention was to arrest bin Laden if they could, I fully understand that this was always likely to have been difficult," she added.

"This was a complex operation and it would have been helpful if we knew the precise facts surrounding his killing," the High Commissioner for Human Rights said. All counterterrorism operations had to respect international law, she added.

A spokesman for her office noted that since the remarks had been prepared more details had emerged from the United States on the killing of bin Laden by US commandos during a raid on his hideout in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad.

Pillay said: "If he was captured and brought before a court I have no doubt he would have been charged with the most serious crimes, including the mass murder of civilians on 9/11, which were planned and systematic and amounted to crimes against humanity."

A UN source said no request had been made to the United States so far.

The United States revealed late Monday that Bin Laden was unarmed when US commandos shot him dead, although there was strong resistance during a firefight in the compound.

But officials did not clearly explain why he was shot dead and not captured given that he was unarmed, fuelling speculation that the elite Navy SEAL team had been ordered on a kill mission.

Pillay described bin Laden as a "very dangerous man who had glorified his involvement" in attacks by Al Qaeda and "claimed command responsibility for the most appaling acts of terrorism."

© 2011 AFP

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