Ex-security chiefs held over Hariri murder

LEBANESE authorities last week detained the top pro-Syrian security chiefs who served at the time of the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, on suspicion of involvement in the plot.

  • E-Mail
By  Rhys Jones Published  September 4, 2005

LEBANESE authorities last week detained the top pro-Syrian security chiefs who served at the time of the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, on suspicion of involvement in the plot. The officials, only one of whom is still serving, were brought in for questioning as suspects at the request of the United Nations (UN) team investigating the killing. The three men are Jamil Al Sayyed, former head of the general security service, Ali Hajj, ex-chief of internal security and Raymond Azar, the former military intelligence chief. Nasser Qandil, a pro-Syrian former member of parliament, was also held. UN investigators, assisted by Lebanese police, searched the homes of the suspects in dawn raids. The explosion that killed Hariri and 20 others in Beirut in February provoked international pressure on Syria to end its 29-year presence in Lebanon. Syria has denied involvement. If the detained officials are charged, the entire security chain that Syria set up in Lebanon would be implicated in the plot to kill Hariri. “The detentions in Beirut are the beginning of justice. There will be more detentions,” said member of parliament Saad Hariri, the former premier’s son. “[The UN team] will go all the way and we want to go all the way. These arrests show that no matter how high the perpetrators are, they will face the consequences of what they did,” he added. Fouad Siniora, Lebanon’s prime minister and a member of the anti-Syrian coalition that won the parliamentary elections in June this year, said the UN team, headed by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, had not yet completed its probe. In an interim report to the UN Security Council last week, Mehlis complained that Syria was not co-operating fully with his investigation. Last Monday, however, Bashar Al Assad, the Syrian president, pledged co-operation, saying he believed Syria would be cleared. Following a closed-door council briefing from UN political affairs chief Ibrahim Gambari, US deputy ambassador Anne Patterson said Syria was still not cooperating with investigators, despite last week’s council plea to do so. “There has been no cooperation and Dr. Gambari raised that in his briefing and expressed concern about this, that there has been no cooperation from Syria,” said Patterson. Meanwhile, several prominent critics of Syria have fled the country. Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, who has repeatedly called for the resignation of Lebanon’s pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, flew to Paris last week having spent the past three months in his heavily guarded castle south of Beirut. Jumblatt joined several other leading politicians who have sought refuge in Paris, including Saad Hariri, who left the country last month.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code