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Syrian Judicial Committee Begins Probe into Hariri's Killing

A Syrian special judicial committee for investigation into the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri began its work on Thursday, the official SANA news agency reported.

"The committee has reviewed the first report presented by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis to the UN Security Council ...then decided to ask the concerned parties to provide organizing minutes when they questioned some Syrians," Syrian Attorney General Ghada Mourad, head of the committee, was quoted as saying. Mourad said that the committee will coordinate with a UN investigation committee and Lebanese judicial authorities in a bid to uncover the truth of the crime.

She called on everyone who has information on the murder of Hariri to either come personally to the headquarters of the committee or call it via phones, faxes or email on addresses to be announced as soon as possible.

The committee includes Military Attorney General Brigadier General Goerge Tahaan and President of the Judicial Inspection Administration Taysir Qala Awad.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a presidential decree last Saturday to set up a special judicial committee following calls by Mehlis to carry out its own probe into the killing when he briefed the UN Security Council on Oct. 25.

Damascus is facing mounting international pressure following an interim report by Mehlis, which found "converging evidence" of Syrian and Lebanese involvement in the killing of Hariri in a carbomb blast in the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Feb. 14.Syria denied any involvement and dismissed the report as politically motivated.

The United States, France and Britain sponsored a draft resolution on Oct. 25, but dropped a specific reference to threat of economic sanctions in a last-minute concession to secure a unanimous vote on the draft resolution Monday.

The resolution pressed for full Syrian cooperation with the UN probe, threatening to take "further action," if Syria does not comply.

(Xinhua News Agency November 4, 2005)

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