UN in Beirut to probe al-Hariri killing

A UN-appointed commission has arrived in Lebanon to join the investigation into the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

    Al-Hariri and 17 others were killed in a huge blast last week

    The three-member team of Irish police officers led by deputy commissioner

    Peter Fitzgerald was met at Beirut airport on Thursday

    by foreign ministry officials and the UN spokesman in Lebanon

    , Nejib Friji.

    The team is due to "assist and cooperate" with Lebanese authorities

    and is expected to contact security and judicial officials

    in the country, according to sources close to the inquiry

    .
      
    After a weekly cabinet session on Thursday, Information Minister Elie Firzli reiterated a pledge that the "Lebanese judiciary authorities will not hesitate to assist, cooperate and coordinate" with the team.

    The UN team is made up of forensic, judicial and political experts

    .

    Syria withdrawal

    Lebanese opposition parties have accused the government and its political masters in Syria of having a hand in the 14 February massive bomb blast in a Beirut seafront neighbourhood that killed al-Hariri and 17 others.

    Kofi Annan says Syria must leave
    Lebanon before April 

    The authorities in Beirut have denied any responsibility for the killing and agreed to cooperate with the UN commission of inquiry, but have rejected a full international probe.

    The UN team is due to complete their initial investigation within a month.
      
    Meanwhile, UN chief Kofi Annan has called for a Syrian troop pullout from Lebanon before April.

    In an interview with Al-Arabiya news channel on Thursday, he warned

    that the Security Council could otherwise take "measures" against Damascus.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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