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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

UN Hariri investigator asks Security Council for one-year extension
Jaime Jansen at 3:30 PM ET

[JURIST] Serge Brammertz [official profile], the deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Court who is leading the UN's independent investigation [UN materials] into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive] told [video briefing] the UN Security Council Wednesday that he has made progress in finding the motive behind Hariri's assassination, but also requested an additional year to continue the investigation. While briefing the Council [summary] on his seventh progress report, Brammertz said that the commission has determined that Hariri's death was linked to the extension of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud's term and preparations for the May 2005 parliamentary elections. Brammertz added that the governments of Lebanon and Syria [JURIST news archives] have cooperated with the investigation, but expressed concern that continued violence in Lebanon has increased instability. Prior commission reports have implicated Syrian officials in the assassination [JURIST report] and Detlev Mehlis, the German prosecutor who headed the probe until resigning at the end of 2005, has also said that he is "convinced" that Syrian authorities are responsible for Hariri's death [JURIST report].

Brammertz's commission is scheduled to expire in June, but will likely be extended until June 2008 in anticipation of a new international tribunal [JURIST news archive] to try suspects accused of assassinating Hariri. The UN approved an agreement [JURIST report] to open the new tribunal last month, and now awaits approval [JURIST report] by the Lebanese National Assembly [official website]. Current Prime Minister Fouad Siniora [BBC profile] supports the tribunal, while pro-Syrian President Lahoud [official profile] opposes [JURIST comment] the tribunal. DPA has more.

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