UN confirms agreement with Syria on Lebanon murder probe

Detlev Mehlis

25 November 2005 – Detlev Mehlis, who heads the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, has reached an agreement with the Syrian authorities on the United Nations office in Vienna as a venue for the questioning of five Syrian officials in the case, a UN spokesperson confirmed today.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan was “very pleased” at this outcome, and expects Syria’s cooperation to continue throughout Mr. Mehlis’ investigation, the spokesperson said. Mr. Mehlis heads the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) which, in an interim report earlier this month, determined that "converging evidence" pointed at both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in the 14 February assassination of Mr. Hariri, in which 22 other people also died.

The Security Council endorsed an extension of the Commission's mandate until 15 December and decided to extend it further if so recommended by the Commission and requested by the Lebanese Government. Mr. Annan and the Council have called on Syria to cooperate fully with the investigation.

The assassination 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in Lebanon since the early stages of the country's 1975-1990 civil war, and the UN reported that Syrian troops were withdrawn in April.

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