Security Council endorses UN help for Hariri murder trial

Date: 03-29-06

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The United Nations Security Council directed UN chief Kofi Annan to negotiate a deal with Lebanon creating an international tribunal to try suspects in the murder of Lebanon's ex-premier.

The 15-member council unanimously adopted a French-drafted resolution urging Annan to negotiate an accord on the tribunal for suspects in the slaying of Rafiq Hariri.

The text also asked Annan "to submit in a timely manner for the consideration of the Council a report on the implementation of this resolution ... including options for a funding mechanism appropriate to ensure the continued and effective functioning of the tribunal."

In a report released last week, Annan suggested the creation of a mixed tribunal involving Lebanese and international judges that "would best balance the need for Lebanese and international involvement in the work of the tribunal."

"That balance would be determined by such important characteristics as the tribunal's founding instrument, applicable law, location, composition and financial arrangements," it added.

It noted that Lebanese authorities believe that for security reasons the court should be established outside Lebanon.

The UN Security Council last December authorised Lebanon to create a special tribunal for the murder of Hariri and 20 others in a February 2005 bombing in downtown Beirut.

Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz, who is currently leading a six-month UN probe of the slaying, earlier this month cited progress in the investigation but stressed that Syrian cooperation would be crucial to make further headway.

Two previous reports by Brammertz's predecessor, German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, had suggested top-level Syrian involvement in the assassination plot, and blasted Damascus for failing to cooperate and actively seeking to mislead the investigation.

Syria, the longtime powerbroker in Lebanon, has denied any involvement in Hariri's murder and accused the UN panel of political bias.


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