|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5863rd Meeting (PM)
NETWORK OF INDIVIDUALS ACTED IN CONCERT TO CARRY OUT ASSASSINATION OF FORMER
LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER RAFIQ HARIRI, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
New Head of Investigation Commission Says ‘Hariri Network’ Linked to Some Other
Cases; Priority Now to Gather Evidence about Scope, Identity of All Participants
The International Independent Investigation Commission could now confirm, on the basis of evidence, that a network of individuals had acted in concert to carry out the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri on 14 February 2005, Daniel Bellamare told the Security Council this afternoon.
Briefing the Council on the Commission’s progress, that body’s newly appointed Commissioner also confirmed that that network -– the “Hariri Network” -– or parts of it, were linked to some of the other cases the Commission was looking into. The Commission had also gathered evidence that: the Hariri Network had existed before the Hariri assassination; that it conducted surveillance of Mr. Hariri before the attack; that it operated on the day of Mr. Hariri’s assassination; and that, at least part of the Network, continued to exist and operate after the assassination.
He said the Commission’s priority was now to gather more evidence about the Hariri Network, its scope, the identity of all of its participants and their role in the attacks, and their links with others outside the Network. The Commission had also continued to assist the Lebanese authorities in providing “technical assistance” in a number of cases. Investigation of possible links between those cases and the Hariri case continued.
Unfortunately, the establishment of the Commission had not had an immediate deterrent effect on terrorists, as bombings had continued, he said. Two more deadly attacks -– on Major General François al Haij and Major Wissam Eid, both members of Lebanon’s security forces -– had been added to the Commission’s mandate. The magnitude of the attacks and the fact that investigations were conducted in an environment dominated by ongoing security concerns added to the Commission’s challenges.
“But rest assured,” he said. “The Commission will not be deterred by this prevailing violence.” The Commission’s overarching principle was to ensure that justice was done. The Commission would yield to no pressure, political or otherwise. In its search for truth and justice, applying basic principles of fairness, neutrality and impartiality, the Commission must be guided by facts and evidence. Everything else was irrelevant. The Commission was an independent body, created to help put an end to impunity in Lebanon by ensuring that the perpetrators would have no safe haven and that they were eventually brought to justice.
Addressing the matter of confidentiality, he said the Commission had to constantly find a delicate balance between its reporting obligations and the need to preserve the confidentiality of the investigation. There was every intention, however, of being transparent to the extent possible without jeopardizing the security of those who wanted to cooperate, and the security of the staff. Transparency was essential to maintain the confidence of the public in the Commission.
As for the transition to the Special Tribunal in Lebanon, Mr. Bellemare, as the Prosecutor Designate of that Tribunal, said that the filing of eventual indictments would not be immediate after the establishment of the Tribunal, because evidence would have to be carefully and objectively considered in light of the applicable prosecution threshold. Ideally, however, the time between the establishment of the operations of the Tribunal and the filing of indictments should be as short as possible. That was the reason why the progress of the investigation had become such a crucial element in determining when the Tribunal would commence its operation. As a result, he requested a mandate extension for the Commission beyond 15 June.
He said that any unnecessary delay in finding the truth and bringing the perpetrators to justice must be avoided. The search for justice, however, must be allowed to follow its course. Although the frustration of the surviving victims, the families of the deceased, and the people of Lebanon who expected quick results were legitimate and understandable, that frustration must not be allowed to undermine the trust and the confidence the members of the international community and the people of Lebanon had placed in the Commission and in its process. No effort would be spared to expedite the process as much as was humanly possible.
In response to the question by the Russian Federation’s representative regarding four individuals suspected of having participated in the assassination had been in prison for four years without an indictment, Mr. Bellemare said the decision to detain them had been made by Lebanese judicial authorities, according to Lebanese criminal law. He said he had discussed the matter with Lebanon’s Prosecutor General, but that he could not publicly disclose the content of their discussions.
Before Council members went into closed consultations to discuss the matter further, the representative of Lebanon said that, since the last report, two new crimes had been perpetrated that had been added to the Commission’s mandate. The number of terrorist acts for which technical assistance was now being provided by the Commission stood at 20, and had left 61 people dead and 490 wounded. Lebanon, together with the international community, was determined to find out the truth. The new Tribunal should ensure that there would be no impunity for the perpetrators. It was a search for truth, never for revenge. Truth had to be found in order to heal the wounds caused by the terrorist attacks.
Paying tribute to the Commission and its staff, who continued to work in difficult security conditions, he welcomed the concrete results reached by the Commission including the conclusion based on evidence that the assassination had been executed by the criminal network. He reiterated his Government’s firm commitment to ensure full protection to the members of the Commission. He welcomed the Commission’s intentions regarding the completion of the necessary steps for the transitional period and the transfer of evidence, and assured the Council that his Government would look favourably on the Commissioner’s request to renew the Commission’s mandate.
The Commission’s tenth report is contained in document 8/2008/210.
The meeting was called to order at 3:05 p.m. and adjourned at 3:35 p.m.
* *** *For information media • not an official record