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Syria president rejects second UN interview request in Hariri probe

[JURIST] Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile] on Saturday indicated he plans to reject a second interview request from UN investigators running the probe into the bus bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive]. Assad rejected the first request [JURIST report] last week. Arguing that this is a matter of national sovereignty, Assad vowed not to cave to international pressure, but did pledge to continue cooperation with the probe in a speech to the Arab Lawyers Union. The UN commission has twice implicated top Syrian officials [JURIST report] in the assassination probe and has said that Syria has failed to fully cooperate with the investigation. Assad did not specifically address the request by the UN to interview him and his foreign minister about threats Assad allegedly made against Hariri a few months before the assassination, leaving open the possibility that Assad may agree to meet with UN investigators, but not submit to a formal interview. Former Vice President Abdul-Halim Khaddam [Wikipedia profile] has said in press interviews [text] after his defection to France that Assad had either known about the assassination or gave the orders to assassinate. Syria recently announced plans to try Khaddam, who was expelled from Syria's ruling Baath party [JURIST report], for high treason [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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