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UN investigator reports progress in Hariri assassination probe

[JURIST] Serge Brammertz [official profile], the deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Court who is heading the UN's independent investigation [UN materials] into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri [JURIST news archive] told the UN Security Council Monday that he has made progress in "developing crime scene evidence and investigating potential perpetrators." While briefing the Council [summary] on his sixth progress report, Brammertz noted that some 20 countries were not cooperating with the investigation, either by not responding to requests for assistance or by telling his investigators that national legislation prevented their cooperation with the probe. Brammertz also said that Syria's cooperation has been "generally satisfactory." Prior commission reports have implicated Syrian officials in the assassination [JURIST report] and Detlev Mehlis, the German prosecutor who headed the probe until resigning at the end of 2005, has also said that he is "convinced" that Syrian authorities are responsible for Hariri's death [JURIST report].

The evidence that Brammertz collects will be turned over to a UN-supported international tribunal being established to try suspects in Hariri's murder. Tribunal plans are currently at a stand-still, however, as Lebanese President Emile Lahoud [official website] has formally refused to endorse the plan [JURIST report] because the proposal was approved by the Lebanese Cabinet in what Lahoud called an "unconstitutional" vote [JURIST report]. The Lebanese parliament must also approve the tribunal plans; the proposal was sent to parliament for approval [JURIST report] last week. Reuters has more. The UN News Service has additional coverage.

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