New York

02 May 2017

Note to Correspondents: Update on investigation into the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him

Mr. Mohamed Othman, former Chief Justice of Tanzania, held meetings last week with Member States in New York in his role as Eminent Person in relation to the investigation into the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him. 

Mr. Othman was appointed by the Secretary-General pursuant to General Assembly resolution 71/260, and is familiar with this matter from his position as Chair of the 2015 Independent Panel of Experts. Similar to the 2015 Panel, the Eminent Person’s mandate is to review potential new information, assess its probative value, and determine the scope that any further investigation should take. The mandate of the Eminent Person also goes further, allowing Mr. Othman to potentially draw conclusions from the investigations already conducted, including those of the 2015 Panel, and of the 2013 Hammarskjöld Commission comprised of Sir Stephen Sedley (Chair), Ambassador Hans Corell, Justice Richard Goldstone, and Justice Wilhelmina Thomassen.

Mr. Othman continues to urge Member States to identify and make available possible further information that may shed light on the final stages of flight SE-BDY, the aircraft carrying the former Secretary-General and his party that crashed near Ndola on the night of 17-18 September 1961. He has noted that more active cooperation is necessary from Member States to declassify or otherwise allow access to records that are now over 55 years old. 

The current stage of the work will build on the findings of the 2015 Panel, which concluded, among other things, that there was significant new information with sufficient probative value to further pursue aerial attack or other interference as a hypothesis of the possible cause of the crash. Mr. Othman will continue to liaise with relevant parties prior to reporting his findings to the Secretary-General before the end of the current General Assembly session.