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UN Sets Up Probe Into Lebanese Ex-Premier's Murder

Security Council Sets Up Independent Probe Into Lebanese Ex-Premier's Murder

The United Nations Security Council today voted unanimously to set up an international independent investigation Commission into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and called on all states and parties to cooperate fully.

The action, in Security Council resolution 1595, follows the recommendation of a UN inquiry mission into February's terrorist bombing, which found that Lebanon's own probe was seriously flawed and declared Syria, with thousands of troops in its smaller neighbour, primarily responsible for the political tension preceding the assassination.

Noting the mission's finding that the Lebanese investigation process "has neither the capacity nor the commitment to reach a satisfactory and credible conclusion," the Council requested Secretary-General Kofi Annan to speedily recruit impartial and experienced staff for the Commission, to be based in Lebanon, so that it can complete its work within three months.

Mr. Annan can extend its mandate for a further period not exceeding three months and is to report back on the Commission's progress at least every two months.

The resolution called on Lebanon to provide the Commission with full cooperation including access to all documentary, testimonial and physical evidence, freedom of movement and the authority to collect any additional information and evidence deemed relevant.

It also called on all states to provide any relevant information pertaining to the terrorist act and reiterated its call to the Lebanese Government to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors.

The earlier inquiry mission, led by Peter Fitzgerald, a deputy Irish national police commissioner, was appointed by Mr. Annan after the Council requested him to report urgently on the circumstances, causes and consequences of the 14 February attack, which in addition to Mr. Hariri also killed 19 others.

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