Security Council receives Mehlis report; Annan condemns new assassination in Lebanon

Kofi Annan

12 December 2005 – The Security Council and Secretary-General Kofi Annan today condemned the murder of Gibran Tueni, a politician and journalist in Lebanon, as Council members received the report of Detlev Mehlis, head of the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) probing the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Earlier today, a spokesman for Mr. Annan said he was “shocked and dismayed” to learn about the murder of Mr. Tueni, who he hailed as “a tireless advocate of a sovereign Lebanon and free press.”

Three others were also killed in the blast, which spokesman Stephane Dujarric called “cold-blooded murder.” He said it was “the latest in a vicious campaign against Lebanese citizens, journalists, political leaders and their right to freedom of expression.”

The Secretary-General reiterated his call for the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, which outlined a number of priorities for Lebanon, including the disbanding of militias. “The perpetrators and instigators of today’s and other attacks must be brought to justice to ensure an end to impunity,” the spokesman said.

These points were echoed later in the day by the Security Council, which condemned the “in the strongest terms the 12 December terrorist bombing in the suburbs of Beirut” that killed Mr. Tueni, who it called “an outspoken symbol of freedom and the sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon.” Three others were also killed in the blast.

“The Security Council reiterates its deepest concern about the destabilizing impact of political assassinations and other terrorist acts in Lebanon,” said Council President Emyr Jones Parry of the United Kingdom in a statement read out on behalf of the members.

He warned those responsible that they “will not be permitted to succeed and will finally be held accountable for their crimes.”

Welcoming Lebanon’s determination to bring to justice those responsible, he voiced the readiness of the Council “to consider positively any request for assistance in this regard.”

Mr. Mehlis, meanwhile, will brief the Security Council Tuesday on his latest report. Although it has not yet been made public, Mr. Dujarric said the document details progress made in the investigation of the 14 February bombing that killed Mr. Hariri and 22 others.

The Secretary-General “notes that efforts to gain the cooperation of the Syrian authorities have only recently begun to bear fruit, after delays which had an impact on the Commission’s work,” Mr. Dujarric said.

Asked whether the information in the report indicates that sanctions will be applied against Syria or the suspects, Mr. Jones Parry said, “it warrants full consideration” but added that it was premature at this stage to say what response would be appropriate.

According to the spokesman, Mr. Mehlis has informed the Secretary-General that he would not be available to head the Commission if the Security Council chooses to extend its mandate. Mr. Mehlis “himself recommends that the mandate should be extended by a period of six months to enable the investigation to continue,” Mr. Dujarric said.

“The Secretary-General says he has been working to ensure that a successor is chosen as soon as possible and has worked out a satisfactory arrangement with Mehlis to ensure continuity of the Commission’s work until that successor begins work,” he added.

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