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New clues turn up in Lebanon slaying

Investigators uncover suspects and witnesses in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

December 13, 2006|From the Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. inquiry on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has identified suspects and witnesses and found possible links to 14 other slayings and attempted slayings in Lebanon during the last two years, the chief investigator said Tuesday.

Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz said his investigators agreed with Lebanon's prosecutor general that no suspects or witnesses should be named immediately, to avoid prejudicing any trial.

Investigators are looking at numerous motives, including assassination by an extremist group because of Hariri's links to other states in the region and in the West; because the group wanted to eliminate him from May 2005 elections; or because of his likely exposure of a bank fraud.

In its fourth report to the United Nations Security Council, the International Independent Investigation Commission that Brammertz heads provided new evidence and tantalizing clues about the bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others on Feb. 14, 2005.

Brammertz also revealed that the commission's work on 14 other killings and attempted killings since October 2004 "continues to elicit significant links between each case, and to indicate links to the Rafik Hariri case."

A report last year by Brammertz's predecessor implicated Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services.

Four pro-Syria Lebanese generals have been under arrest for 15 months, accused of involvement in Hariri's death.

Syria has denied involvement in the killing.

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