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Lebanon: UN official reports broad support for tribunal with international character

31 January 2006 A senior United Nations official today reported to the Security Council that there is wide backing in Lebanon for the establishment of a tribunal of an international character to try those charged with the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and others.

Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Angela Kane summed up the results of a recent visit to Lebanon by the UN Legal Counsel, Nicholas Michel, who discussed with the Lebanese authorities the nature and scope of the assistance required for such a court.

“The meetings were constructive and fruitful, and Mr. Michel believes that there is a broad basis of support for the establishment of a tribunal of an international character,” Ms. Kane told the 15-member Council.

“He expressed to the authorities his great appreciation for the positive atmosphere of the discussions and was encouraged by the general commitment demonstrated to move ahead,” she added.

The UN will continue to work with the Lebanese authorities on the matter in the days and weeks ahead, Ms. Kane said.

Her comments on Lebanon came as part of a periodic update on the Middle East provided to Security Council members. Other issues touched on today included the recent Palestinian elections, yesterday's meeting of the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East, and the health of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Mr. Michel was in Lebanon on 26 and 27 January. His visit stemmed from Security Council resolution 1644, which acknowledged “the Lebanese Government's request that those eventually charged with involvement in this terrorist attack be tried by a tribunal of an international character” and asked the Secretary-General to provide assistance towards that end.

Adopted last month, that text also expanded the mandate of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) charged with looking into the assassination of Mr. Hariri, who was killed in a 14 February 2005 blast that also took the lives of 22 others. The Commission, now headed by Serge Brammertz, will support Lebanese probes into other terrorist attacks perpetrated in the country since 1 October 2004.



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