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Special Counsel Would Delay Any Immunity

January 24, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — The independent counsel in the Iran arms- contra aid scandal has asked a special House panel to delay granting immunity to any witness until he completes his investigation, congressional sources said Friday.

Sources close to the special House investigatory committee said Lawrence E. Walsh had sent a letter this week to panel Chairman Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.) asking for a delay in any requests to grant immunity.

Some Back Immunity

Some Republican members of the committee support granting limited immunity to Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter and Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, who lost their posts on the National Security Council because of the Iran-contra affair and have refused to testify before Congress.

"What he wants is for us not to grant immunity until he's finished with his investigation," a congressional source said.

"He could take a year or more. I'm sure there are members who would like to see immunity granted soon."

Fears Expressed

Legal experts have expressed fear that the granting of immunity to witnesses by the House select committee and a companion committee in the Senate could jeopardize any criminal prosecutions in the case.

If immunity were granted to witnesses, none of the testimony before Congress--or any evidence that was gathered as a result of that information--could be used to prosecute them.

If Walsh wanted to prosecute those witnesses later, he would have to prove that none of his evidence came from congressional testimony--a standard that is very difficult to meet.

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