Dramatic day in Beirut: Top security officials arrested in connection with Hariri murder
Lebanese authorities announced on Tuesday the arrest of three former pro-Syrian security chiefs in connection with the murder of Lebanon's ex-Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, who was killed this past February in a bomb blast in Beirut.
The three pro-Syrian chiefs arrested were chief Jamil Al Sayed, ex-military intelligence chief Raymond Azar and former internal security chief Ali Al Hajj, according to AFP.
All were taken under heavy escort to the countryside headquarters of the investigating U.N. commission headed by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis in Monteverde, a summer resort overlooking Beirut. Among others that were held in Monteverde were Brig. Gen. Mustafa Hamdan, commander of the army's Presidential Guard Brigade, his brother Majed Hamdan, Brigade Officer Jamal Mawas and two senior officers of the state security apparatus: Faisal al-Rashid and Khodr al-Tawil, Naharnet reported.
Brig. Gen. Mustafa Hamdan is President Lahoud's closest aide.
Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Seniora told reporters 'All have been classified by the committee as suspects in the murder case."
This dramatic development was one of the first in connection with the death of Hariri, whose killing and subsequent public shock is seen as a catalyst to the pullout of Syrian troops from Lebanon in April. Many Lebanese believe Syria and its allies to be behind Hariri's death.
Police also raided the Beirut house of former pro-Syrian parliament member Nasser Kandil.
The United Nations Security Council called on Syria last week to fully cooperate with an international investigation into Hariri's murder. Syria's President Bashar Al Assad pledged his cooperation, denying any Syrian involvement in the incident. The US, however, has called Syria's stance on the matter "unacceptable".
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)