Report: Syrian defector aids in Hariri probe
The UN probe into the murder of Lebanon's late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri made a significant breakthrough following new information which had been provided by a Syrian defector to Chief UN Investigator Detlev Mehlis.
According to Paris-based intelligence specialist Intelligence Online, the defector, Colonel Mohammed Safi, provided information regarding the types of explosives used in the bombing which killed Hariri last February. Safi revealed that the explosives had been purchased from Slovakia.
Safi, who had previously directed the office of General Ali Khalil, Syria's former intelligence chief, had supposedly been convinced to defect from Syria's ranks by US and Saudi intelligence services.
The former colonel initially left Syria for Saudi Arabia, where he was interrogated by Saudi intelligence services and later handed over to US authorities.
Safi approached Mehlis and discussed details of the assassination in two separate meetings in Geneva.
With these latest developments, Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, a bitter political foe of Hariri, has come under increasing scrutiny regarding involvement in the assassination, as four pro-Syrian generals with close ties to him have been accused of complicity; many have called for his resignation as a result.
Lahoud, a pro-Syrian, has stated firmly that he will remain in office until the completion of his two-year term as president, and has called the accusations "political campaigning".
Butros Harb, a Lebanese legislator, was quoted as saying that "President Lahoud is indirectly responsible for the actions undertaken by the four arrested ... because he chose them himself for those positions."
Meanwhile, Syrian authorities have accused the United States and its allies of using the Hariri investigation as a means to tarnish Syria's image.
Syrian state-run radio announced recently that "Nobody has any doubts about the honesty of Mehlis...but the leaders in Washington and other Western countries are trying to use this criminal affair to damage Syria after the failure of all their attempts to tarnish its image."
Syria has stated its willingness to cooperate in everyway with the UN probe into the assassination.
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)