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UN questioning in Hariri probe begins amid allegations of manipulation

[JURIST] UN investigators began questioning five Syrian officials in Damascus Monday as part of their ongoing investigation of the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik al-Hariri [JURIST news archive]. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed to the questioning in late November [JURIST report], with the hope that it would correct numerous alleged errors in the UN probe that led to a October interim report [text] suggesting the assassination could not have occurred without Syrian involvement. In recent weeks, Hosam Taher Hosam, a Syrian eyewitness interviewed by UN investigators, recanted his testimony [JURIST report] and alleged that he was bribed by Hariri's son to provide evidence to implicate Syrian involvement. A spokesman for Hariri called Hosam's claims "baseless", and Hariri's son has accused Syrian officials of attempting to manipulate the investigation [Reuters report]. Officials close to the investigation have not revealed the names of the Syrian officials, but multiple news reports indicate that the group includes Rustom Ghazale, former head of military intelligence in Lebanon, and two of his deputies, Jamee Jamee and Samih Kashami. Questioning is expected to end Thursday. AFP has more.

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