Syrian officials and Lebanese President accused by U.N. report

Friday, October 21, 2005

The death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in February 2005 was the result of collaboration between Syrian and Lebanese officials, says an investigation submitted to the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.

Syrian Information Minister Mahdi Dakhlallah refuted the report saying it was based on witnesses "who are well known for their anti-Syria stands."

The report cast suspicion upon Syrian security officials, as well as current Lebanese President Emile Lahoud. Hariri resigned from his post in October 2004, criticizing the Syrians for pressuring the Lebanese government to extend Lahoud's term. Emile Lahoud's office issued a statement "categorically" denying contents of the U.N. report; "There is no truth to it."

John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said "After an initial read, the results are clearly troubling and will require further discussion with the international community." The United States, Britain, and France have discussed taking actions against Syria, though no response is expected until at least next week.

Hariri and 20 others were killed when a bomb exploded outside his motorcade in Beirut. U.N. Resolution 1595 provided for the investigation of Hariri's assassination, which will be led by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis.