Former Belgian prosecutor named as new head of UN probe into Hariri murder

Kofi Annan meets with Serge Brammertz (l)

11 January 2006 – Secretary-General Kofi Annan today named a former Belgian prosecutor as the new head of the United Nations investigation into last year’s assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In a letter to the Security Council, Mr. Annan said Serge Brammertz, currently a Deputy Prosecutor with the International Criminal Court (ICC), will serve as the Commissioner of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) into the 14 February 2005 bombing that killed the Premier and 22 others.

A spokesman for the Secretary-General issued a statement in New York noting that Mr. Annan has taken steps to help the Lebanese Government identify the nature and scope of the international assistance needed for those charged with the crime to be tried by a tribunal of an international character.

“In near future, he will dispatch a mission to Lebanon for this purpose,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. “In addition, the Secretary-General will consult with Mr. Brammertz and the Lebanese authorities regarding the most effective manner of expanding the work of the Commission to assist the Lebanese authorities to investigate other terrorist attacks since 1 October 2004.”

Mr. Brammertz succeeds Detlev Mehlis, who has been leading the IIIC since its activation in May 2005.

Through his spokesman, the Secretary-General thanked Mr. Mehlis for his “excellent work in establishing the investigation and setting it on a firm and professional footing.”

Mr. Annan also reiterated his “unwavering commitment to support the work of the Commission to fulfil its mandate to assist the Lebanese authorities to bring to justice the perpetrators of this crime,” the spokesman added.

Mr. Brammerz, who has also served on the Justice and Internal Affair Committee of the European Commission and as an advisor to the Internal Organization for Migration, will proceed to Beirut to take up his assignment “as soon as is practicable,” according to the spokesman.

The Security Council set up the IIIC after a UN mission found Lebanon's earlier investigations flawed and Syria primarily responsible for the political tension preceding the murder.

The IIIC’s latest report, released in December 2005, said that converging evidence pointed to both Syrian and Lebanese involvement in the crime, described 19 unidentified suspects of both nationalities and urged improved Syrian cooperation with the probe.

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