Tens of Syrian lawyers and judges took to the streets of Damascus on Sunday protesting against the report submitted by the veteran German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, saying it contains "serious legal mistakes".

 

The participants called on the UN completely to ignore the report, which they said was "politically motivated".

The demonstration started from the offices of the Syrian Union of Lawyers and ended at the UN headquarters in Damascus. The lawyers' union's chairman, Ahmad Edo, handed the UN's representative a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

 

Aljazeera's correspondent in Syria Abdal Hamid Tawfiq, reporting from Damascus on Monday, said Syrian police and security forces had closed many streets, particularly in central Damascus, to secure the way for protesters on foot.

 

Syria has started mobilising its people and officials to articulate the official position on the Mehlis report, he added.  

 

 

 

Politically motivated

 

Ibrahim al-Daraji, a professor of international law in Damascus University, told Aljazeera.net: "The Mehlis report is based on politically motivated testimonies; legally such testimonies are weak and cannot enjoy the necessary credibility."

 

The letter said the Syrian Union of Lawyers had studied Mehlis' report carefully and found that it "violated the simplest of legal tenets".

 

France and US say they have no
differences on the Syrian issue

"The report is based on testimonies of Syria's fiercest opponents who contributed to the anti-Syria atmosphere in Lebanon before and after the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri," it said.

 

In the letter, the Syrian Union of Lawyers criticised the Mehlis report for mentioning what it called irrelevant incidents such as the attack on the Kuwaiti Media Bureau in Beirut while ignoring what it called relevant incidents such as the killing of Syrian workers in Lebanon and vandalising of their properties.

 

The lawyers warned that Syrian and Arab legal practitioners will not keep silent while watching Syria face tough times because of its "stands".

 

Nizar Mayhob, a spokesman of the Syrian Ministry of Information, said: "The US has a list of demands from Syria. Those demands concern Iraq, Lebanon and other Arab countries and issues."

  

Contradictions


Damascus University's al-Daraji said the report is full of gaps and contradictions that detract from its credibility.

 

"The report says there is a Syrian witness [Muhamad Saddik] who planned and carried out the assassination. If that is the case, then they are not witnesses anymore, they are defendants because they participated in the crime," he said.

 

Monday's rally in Damascus was
part of Syria's official response

"If I was in Saad Al-Hariri's (son of Rafiq al-Hariri) shoes, I would sue that defendant because the report is clearly saying he was one of the assassins."

 

Article 116 of Mehlis report states: "The fact that Mr Saddik implicates himself in the assassination, which ultimately led to his arrest, adds to his credibility."

Saddik is a Syrian deserter.

 

While Mehlis' report has frustrated the Syrian government and caused resentment in some sectors of the wider Arab society, it has gained the approval of major Western powers.

 

France wants a UN Security Council resolution to be passed demanding that Syria cooperate fully with the international probe into al-Hariri's 14 February assassination, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on Monday.

French position

 

Paris, thought, wants to await the full conclusions of the UN investigation before deciding whether to support sanctions against Syria, the French foreign minister said. 

France hopes to avoid any impression that the probe is politically motivated, Douste-Blazy said, adding that France has no disagreement with the US on the issue.


The US and Britain called on Sunday for an international stand against Syria in the wake of the Mehlis report.

The call for action underlined the growing pressure on Syria as it faces possible action by the UN Security Council later this week.