Timeline: UN al-Hariri inquiry

Below is presented the key events in Lebanon relating to Rafiq al-Hariri’s killing and the subsequent UN inquiry.

Syrian and Lebanese officials have been linked to the murder

14 February 2005: Al-Hariri is killed by a car bomb in Beirut. Syria denies any role in the assassination.

16 February: Al-Hariri’s funeral attracts 150,000 Lebanese, who turn the ceremony into a massive outpouring of anti-Syrian anger.

28 February: Two weeks of violent protest against Syria forces pro-Damascus incumbent prime minister Omar Karami to resign.

5 March: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad announces to parliament that troops will begin a phased pullout from Lebanon.

8 March: Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese flood into Beirut to attend a pro-Syrian rally organised by Shia resistance group Hizb Allah.

10 March: Lebanese President Emile Lahoud re-appoints Karami as prime minister and asks him to form a government. 

14 March: Anti-Syrian protesters stage Lebanon’s biggest demonstration since al-Hariri’s assassination.

7 April: The UN Security Council votes unanimously to authorise an international investigation into the assassination of al-Hariri. The commission is given three months to complete its work.

13 April: Karami resigns for a second time after failing to form a cabinet.

15 April: Prime minister-designate Najib Miqati forms a government.

26 April: The last Syrian soldiers leave Lebanon, ending a 29-year deployment in the country.

27 May: The UN inquiry team arrives in Beirut, led by top German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis.

19 June: The alliance led by Saad al-Hariri, son of the murdered former prime minister, wins 72 seats in the 128-member assembly after elections. The pro-Syrian Miqati resigns as prime minister. Former finance minister Fuad Siniora is named as his successor.

13 August: Mehlis confirms that his team will directly question Syrian officials as part of the investigation.


Detlev Mehlis has said he will stand
down once the report is submitted

22 August: The UN team seeks an extension to its mandate. 

26 August: Amid growing international criticism of its failure to answer questions, Syria declares it will cooperate with the inquiry.

30 August: Police arrest three former Lebanese security chiefs and the commander of the presidential guard at the behest of the UN inquiry team.

1 September: Lebanon’s top prosecutor issues a preliminary criminal charge against the four Lebanese generals.

3 September: Syria invites Mehlis and his team to Damascus to question officials.

13 September: Lahoud denies any connection to the killing of al-Hariri.

25 September: Egypt urges the international community not to isolate Syria and says that no one should make accusations regarding al-Hariri’s killing until the official report is published.

12 October: Syrian interior minister Ghazi Kanaan commits suicide, three weeks after being questioned by the inquiry. President Al-Assad again denies any Syrian involvement with the assassination.

19 October: Lebanon charges a key Syrian witness detained in France with murder.

20 October: Mehlis turns over an interim report on his findings to the UN.

21 October: The investigation team says there is “converging” evidence of both Syrian and Lebanese involvement in the killing, as Mehlis names several senior Syrian and Lebanese figures in connection with the inquiry. These include the head of Syria’s powerful military intelligence.

22 October: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says the UN Security Council will consider imposing sanctions on Syria.

24 October: Syria rejects the UN report as a “distortion of the truth” as thousands protest in Damascus.

26 October: Syria says it is ready to launch its own inquiry into the killing.


President Bashar al-Assad has
denied Syria’s involvement

27 October: Lebanon arrests two men over the murder of al-Hariri after they were named in the UN report.

31 October: The Security Council votes for a resolution demanding Syria cooperate fully with the UN investigation.

12 November: The UN team questions Lahoud.

26 November: Syria agrees to let the UN team question five implicated officials in the UN building in Vienna.

7 December: UN begins search for a replacement for Mehlis, who says his mandate is up, as his team finishes questioning the five Syrian officials.

11 December: The team responsible for the inquiry into the assassination of al-Hariri is due to submit its report to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

12 January 2006: Former Syrian vice president Abdel-Halim Khaddam accuses al-Assad of ordering al-Hariri’s killing.

Syria says UN investigators probing the killing cannot meet the Syrian president.

19 January: Serge Brammertz, deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), arrives in Beirut to succeed Detlev Mehlis, as head of the UN investigation.

Source: Al Jazeera