New Evidence Points to Syrian Involvement in Hariri Murder – UN Report
New York, Dec 13 2005 4:00PM
Latest evidence reinforces preliminary findings of both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in the murder of former Lebanese
Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, according to a new United Nations report citing burned Syrian documents, pressure on a
witness to recant and the need for Damascus to be more forthcoming.
“However, it is worth noting that, despite their reluctance and procrastination, the Syrian authorities did make
available for questioning the five Syrian officials that the Commission had summoned,” the head of the UN International
Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) Detlev Mehlis said in his report to the Security Council, confirming 19
unidentified suspects and recommending a six-month extension for UNIIIC.
“As this is the beginning of a long-awaited process, it is up to the Syrian authorities to be more forthcoming in order
to make headway in a process that will be most probably a long one if it is to be judged against the pace of progress to
date. Until now, the Commission has made steady progress on the Lebanese track. It remains to be matched on the Syrian
Following the presentation of an earlier report in October, the Council called on Syria to detain Syrian suspects
already identified UNIIIC and clarify all unresolved issues, holding out the possibility of “further action” in the case
Mr. Hariri’s assassination on 14 February, in which 22 other people were also killed when his car was blown up, led to
renewed calls for the withdrawal of all Syrian troops and intelligence agents who had been in Lebanon since the early
stages of the country’s 1975-1990 civil war. In April, the UN reported that troops were withdrawn.
The latest report also deals with witness of Hussam Taher Hussam, who has been shown on Syrian television recanting
testimony he had previously given. UNIIIC said it had received “credible information” that Syrian officials had arrested
and threatened some of Mr. Hussam’s close relatives in Syria.
“Preliminary investigation leads to a conclusion that Mr. Hussam is being manipulated by the Syrian authorities,” the
report said, calling this “an attempt to hinder the investigation internally and procedurally.”
Two of the five Syrian suspects whom UNIIIC questioned indicated that all Syrian intelligence documents concerning
Lebanon had been burned, according to the report.
A statement by a new witness who has been assessed to be credible and whose information is deemed reliable “strengthens
the evidence confirmed to date against the Lebanese officers in custody, as well as high-ranked Syrian officers,” the
“The detailed information points directly at perpetrators, sponsors and organizers of an organized operation aiming to
kill Mr. Hariri, including the recruitment of special agents by the Lebanese and Syrian intelligence services, handling
of improvised explosive devices, a pattern of threats against targeted individuals, and planning of other criminal
activities,” it added.
The report stressed that the next steps to be followed in the investigation require “at all times the full and
unconditional co-operation of the Syrian authorities.”
Noting that substantive lines of enquiry are far from being completed “and given the slow pace with which the Syrian
authorities are beginning to discharge their commitments to the Council,” it recommended that UNIIIC be extended for a
minimum of six months.
In the most recent two-month period, 37,000 pages of documents were entered into the case file. With its support team,
the Commission totals 93 personnel.