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Syria president refuses UN inquiry amid murder accusation

[JURIST] Syrian officials announced Thursday that President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile] would not submit to questioning by the UN probe into the assassination of former Lebanese president Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive]. Information Minister Mahdi Dahkl-Allah claimed that the refusal stemmed from concerns over preserving Syria's sovereignty and intimated that an informal meeting between the investigators and Assad in Syria is still possible. The news comes on the heels of last week's decision to allow foreign minister Farouq al-Shara to meet with UN investigators [JURIST report]. The UN Security Council [official website] has previously threatened "further action" against Syria if it does not cooperate fully with the UN probe. AP has more.

Also on Thursday, former Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam [Wikipedia profile] accused Assad of ordering Hariri's assassination [UN materials] in an interview [text; recorded video] with Britain's Sky News. Syria recently announced plans to try Khaddam, who was expelled from Syria's ruling Baath party [JURIST report], for high treason [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

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