France makes arrest in connection to Hariri assassination
French police detained a "former Syrian intelligence officer" who is considered an important witness in a U.N. probe of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, officials said Monday.
Mohammed Zuhair Al-Siddiq was arrested Sunday in the Paris area by France's DST counterintelligence service, police said, according to the AP. He was the subject of an international arrest warrant and is inclined to be extradited, the officials added.
The arrest warrant, issued by Lebanese Magistrate Elias Eid, accused Al-Siddiq of giving false testimony and misleading the U.N. investigation, judicial officials in Lebanon said.
Lebanon's Minister of Youth and Sports Ahmed Fatfat, a close Hariri ally, said Al-Siddiq's testimony was inaccurate "perhaps because he wanted it this way, either for personal interest or perhaps because he was planted to mislead the investigation."
Beirut newspaper Al-Mustaqbal which is owned by Hariri family alleged that Al-Siddiq was an accomplice in the planning and execution of the bombing that killed Hariri.
Al-Siddiq is a former soldier who deserted the Syrian Army, lived in Lebanon since 1996 and married a Lebanese, and was once arrested in the Chouf area on charges of theft, a Lebanese daily reported earlier this month. Ad Diyar daily wrote that the evidence on which UN investigators based their accusations against four senior Lebanese officers has turned out to be nothing but "scandalous lies" made by Al-Siddiq who was described as "a known scoundrel posing as an informer."