Serge Brammertz, Commissioner of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) probing the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, said Wednesday that considerable progress has been achieved in the investigation.
Brammertz briefed the Security Council about the development of the investigation on the basis of his latest report of his commission's probe into the killing of Hariri.
"Over the past three months, the investigation has further developed," he told the council members. "Critical forensics work on the crime scene and the convoy vehicles has been completed."
"While continuing essential forensics work, the commission will, in the months ahead, focus on the identification of the perpetrators and those who commissioned the crime," Brammertz added.
He also noted that the commission is satisfied with Syria's cooperation on the issue, saying "the level of assistance to the commission provided by Syria during the reporting period has generally been satisfactory."
"Syria responded to all requests in a timely manner. In some instances comprehensive responses were provided," he said.
Brammertz claimed that he is in favor of Lebanon's request to extend the mandate of the commission for a further period of up to one year.
"Such extension would provide a sense of continuity and stability, and guarantee steady operations and planning," he explained a day before the commission's mandate was set to expire.
Brammertz also pointed out some potential linkages between the Hariri investigation and the 14 other cases, which include assassinations and assassination attempts targeting anti-Syrian Lebanese figures as well as attacks on commercial interests since Oct. 1, 2004.
He concluded that the cases can be linked in a number of different ways and from varying perspectives, notably in the similarities in their method of operating, and their intent.
Brammertz admitted that all the other cases at present are lacking significant forward investigative momentum. He thus called for external assistance to advance the investigation of these cases which are of potential importance to the Hariri investigation.
Lebanese Secretary-General in Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Boutros Assaker, who attended the Council meeting, said Lebanon and its people would remain exceptionally determined and persistent in investigating the crime alongside the international community.
However, Fayssal Mekdad, Syria's Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, noted the report's positive references to Syria's efforts to cooperate with the commission, as well as its positive response in providing the investigation with all necessary information in a timely manner.
He stressed that the most dangerous thing confronting the investigation was exploitation by certain parties to "jump to conclusions or prejudgments not based on clear evidence or proof," and attempts to provide false evidence for the main purpose of pressuring Syria.
Brammertz submitted his latest report to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Saturday. The report is the fourth of its kind since the beginning of the investigation last June. Annan appointed Brammertz in January to succeed Detlev Mehlis as Commissioner of the UNIIIC.
(Xinhua News Agency June 15, 2006)