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Investigation of Hariri assassination was fully independent - Annan

21 October 2005 The panel investigating the February assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri operated with full autonomy, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today, one day after he had transmitted its report to the Security Council.

“The Secretary-General has insisted throughout the process on the importance of the independence of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission led by Mr. Detlev Mehlis,” a spokesman for Mr. Annan said in a statement released in New York.

“This is his investigation. This is his report,” the spokesman stressed, referring to Mr. Mehlis.

The statement noted that the Secretary-General “at no time made any attempt to influence the content of the report.”

Mr. Mehlis echoed this view in his own statement released in response to questions raised in the media about the drafting process. “No one outside my team played any role in the drafting or preparation of the report,” he said.

Taking responsibility for all editorial changes during the two weeks when the report had been prepared, the chief investigator provided a detailed account of the events leading up to the time when the document was distributed to members of the Security Council.

In his statement, Mr. Mehlis underscored that after being informed that the report would be made public, he had instituted a rule, in keeping with established legal procedures and prosecutorial principles, that any person named in witness testimony should not be named in the report unless that person has been charged with a crime related to the assassination.

“I have endeavoured to ensure that all other names have been redacted from the report, the early drafts of which naturally included more information than was meant to end up in its final version,” he said.

The statement also emphasized that the report, as a matter of necessity, does not represent the full product of the investigation, which included more than 16,000 pages of technical documents and the statements of more than 450 witnesses.

The Commission has given that evidence to the Lebanese authorities for them to use as they complete the investigation, Mr. Mehlis said.

Mr. Mehlis is scheduled to brief the Council next Tuesday.


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