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Lebanon Arrests Suspect Named in U.N. Report

October 23, 2005|From Reuters

BEIRUT — Lebanese authorities arrested a man who a United Nations inquiry said had called President Emile Lahoud shortly before the killing of the country's former prime minister, a security source said Saturday.

Security forces detained Mahmoud Abdel-Al early Saturday based on a warrant issued by Lebanese Prosecutor General Said Mirza, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The results of the inquiry into the Feb. 14 bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others were presented to the U.N. Security Council on Thursday. The report says Abdel-Al had "made a call minutes before the blast" to Lahoud's mobile phone. Lahoud's spokesman denies the president was in contact with Abdel-Al.

The U.N. report also names Abdel-Al's brother as a key figure in the plot. Ahmad Abdel-Al is a member of the pro-Syrian Islamic militant Ahbash group.

On Saturday, Hariri's son called for an international court to punish his father's killers.

"We call on the international community to uphold its support for the international commission into the assassination of Mr. Hariri to unearth the full truth and bring the perpetrators to justice in an international court," Saad Hariri said.

"We are not seeking revenge, we are seeking justice."

The report also implicates senior Syrian officials. In Syria, officials dismissed the report as politically motivated and said the charges were false, but left the door open for future cooperation with the inquiry.

"If there is any demand coming from the commission we will discuss it with the commission and we might agree," Foreign Ministry official Riad Daoudi said at a news conference Saturday when asked whether Syria would allow further questioning of its officials.

"We will cooperate, but we'll see what are the boundaries of this cooperation and its elements," he said, adding that talk of sanctions against Syria was premature.

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