Exclusive: New UN Hariri investigator deviates widely from his predecessors
debkafile‘s intelligence sources comment: Canadian former prosecutor Daniel Bellemare, in assigning the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, to an anonymous “criminal network” of individuals seems to deviate strongly from the ten previous reports made by his predecessors.
Both Detlev Mehlis of Germany and Serge Brammertz of Belgium uncovered and made public the strong leads the found to Syrian intelligence officers and their confederates in Lebanese intelligence as the hands behind the crime. Yet only a few months after taking over the probe, the new investigator has blanked out the evidence gathered in three years of investigations.
The release of his interim report, with no mention of Syria, the day before its president opens an Arab summit in Damascus on March 29, under a heavy cloud over its meddling in Lebanon’s ongoing political crisis, raises questions.
For Bashar Assad the Bellimare report is a heavensent gift. His propaganda machine will not doubt exploit it to the hilt as a clean bill of health. He may even demand an apology from those who pointed the finger of guilt at Damascus, like Tehran after the US National Intelligence Estimate cleared Iran of military nuclear activities after 2003.
At the same time, it must be stressed that the new UN report absolves no party of guilt for the assassination of Syria’s Lebanese foe three years ago. Security agencies, especially in the Middle East, have been known to employ criminal networks for “wet operatons” to cut out their links to the crime.
The new Hariri investigator has promised a progress report next month, which should be more instructive about the date of the international tribunal set up to try Hariri’s assassins and the witnesses he intends to call as chief prosecutor.