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Probe of Fatal Attack on Former Lebanese Premier

UN Investigator Promises In-Depth Probe of Fatal Attack on Former Lebanese Premier

New York, May 24 2005 4:00PM

The head of the United Nations commission established to investigate the fatal bombing attack on former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri said today that his team would do its very best to identify "who planned, facilitated and carried out this terrible crime against totally innocent people."

Veteran prosecutor Detlev Mehlis told a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York that he would leave tomorrow for the Lebanese capital, Beirut, with a small team that would review the evidence and information collected by previous panels since the 14 February assault.

Later, the team would expand to include investigators from 25 to 40 countries, he said, and, in answer to a question about reported tampering with evidence, he said he was "cautiously optimistic" that the team could draw the correct conclusions.

His investigation would be "classic, criminal, prosecutorial," compared to the earlier review by Irish Deputy Police Commissioner Peter Fitzgerald, and since the results would be turned over to the Lebanese Government, it would follow that country's code of criminal procedure, Mr. Mehlis said.

According to the Security Council's 7 April resolution governing the work of the International Independent Investigation Commission, the panel would have to complete its work within three months of becoming operational and could get a three-month extension, if Secretary-General Kofi Annan thought it necessary.

ENDS

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