Three Syrian officers suspected in Hariri murder go missing

Monday, March 30, the international court prosecuting the four-year old assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri asked Lebanon to transfer its authority in the case, signaling the start of legal proceedings.
debkafile‘s intelligence sources disclose that two weeks before the request was received in Beirut, three Syrian generals suspected of a role in the murder disappeared from their homes.
They are Gen. Rustum Ghazale, Syrian military intelligence chief in Lebanon in the early 2000s, his deputy Gen. Jam’a Jam’a, and senior intelligence officer in Beirut Col. Jemal Abu Jemal.
They went missing shortly after Syrian president Bashar Assad received assurances from UN officials close to the tribunal and French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s advisers that the court had decided not to summon Assad in person, or his younger brother Maher Assad and brother-in-law Gen. Asif Shawqat as suspects in the case. But they would demand the extradition of the three missing generals.
Monday, the Belgian pre-trial magistrate Daniel Fransen asked the Lebanese judiciary to release to the tribunal’s general prosecutor Daniel Bellemare all the documents and reports relating to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005 and a list of detainees.
Justice minister Ibrahim Najjar said that by this request, the tribunal is claiming exclusive jurisdiction over detainees, including the four Lebanese generals held since 2005 as suspected accomplices in the murder.
debkafile‘s Middle East sources report that Assad has apparently hidden the missing Syrian officers away in “protective custody” for the following reasons:
1. To make sure they do not escape and solicit the tribunal’s protection as prosecution witnesses. They know enough about the Hariri assassination plot to incriminate the Syrian president and the entire Assad clan and also bring down the Syrian regime’s mainstay, the intelligence service.
2. Or to use them as an insurance policy against the Assads’ incrimination. If the tribunal agrees to leave the Assads and their intelligence services out of the proceedings, the Syrian president may consider throwing the three Syrian officers to the wolves as the primary conspirators and perpetrators of the assassination of the anti-Syrian Lebanese politician.
This was how Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi wriggled out of indictment for the Pan-Am airliner’s terrorist bombing over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1986. He handed the special Scottish tribunal two senior Libyan agents who were convicted for the atrocity.
3. If challenged to release the three Syrian officers to the tribunal, the Syrian ruler can say they have disappeared and he does not know their whereabouts.
The request to the Lebanese government to relinquish authority in the Hariri case marks the opening of the international tribunal’s proceedings.
The next step may well be a subpoena for the four Lebanese generals, incarcerated for four years in Beirut: They are Gen. Mustafa Hamdan, former head of the Lebanese presidential guard, Jamil Sayyed, former head of Lebanese intelligence, Ali Hajj, former head of Lebanese internal security, and Raymond Azar, former chief of Lebanese military intelligence.
They are suspected of acting on the instructions of the three missing Syrian officers and are in a position to incriminate figures at the top of the Syrian regime.

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