[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 18:27 GMT 19:27 UK
UN Iraq envoy laid to rest
Sergio Vieira de Mello's coffin is carried out after his funeral
Vieira de Mello was to be laid to rest in Geneva
Tributes have been paid to the United Nations envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, whose funeral has taken place in Switzerland, more than a week after his death in the bombing of the UN building in Baghdad.

About 500 relatives and friends of the Brazilian diplomat filled St Paul's Roman Catholic church in Geneva, as loudspeakers broadcast the service to those who waited on the street.

Correspondents say that 55-year-old Vieira de Mello - who was Brazilian - was seen by many as a future UN secretary-general.

Vieira de Mello was among at least 23 people killed on 19 August, when a suicide truck devastated the UN headquarters in Baghdad. More than 100 people were also wounded.

Candles flickering on the altar in the church symbolised each victim of the attack, with Vieira de Mello's wife, Annie, and their two adult sons, Adrien and Laurent, lighting the 23rd candle in his memory.

Sergio Vieira de Mello
Vieira de Mello was much admired around the world

"The revolting and incomprehensible attack of August 19 killed our father and many of his colleagues," Laurent said.

"But his assassins did not really kill him because his legacy and ideals of helping people live on in each of us."

The wife of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Nane, represented her husband at the ceremony, also attended by UN Deputy Secretary General Louise Frechette, soprano Barbara Hendricks - a personal friend and UNHCR goodwill ambassador - and many UN officials.

East Timor Foreign Minister Jose Ramo Horta, the Nobel laureate who worked closely with Vieira de Mello when he headed up UN operations in the country when it gained independence from Indonesia, travelled especially to attend the funeral.

The coffin was carried out of the church to the sound of John Lennon's song Imagine for burial at the Cemetery of Kings.

The cemetery is a resting place reserved in Geneva for figures who have marked international history, including the theologian Jean Calvin and writer Jorge Luis Borges.

The flags of the United Nations are still flying at half mast in respect for the Brazilian diplomat and the other victims of the Baghdad bomb attack, says the BBC's Emma Jane Kirby in Geneva.

The UN High Commission of Human Rights was to hold a special evening service to celebrate his life later on Thursday, and the UN is to hold its own memorial service on Friday for all of the victims of the bomb attack.


Vieira de Mello was close to Mr Annan, who often described him as "my brother", and at a ceremony last weekend in Brazil, said his envoy would "shine forever among our brightest stars".

Vieira de Mello's body was initially flown to Brazil, where a memorial service was held for family and friends, before being brought to Geneva.

He worked for the UN for over three decades and his diplomatic skills saw him frequently posted to trouble spots, including Kosovo and East Timor.

In June, he was asked to take leave of absence from his Geneva-based job as High Commissioner for Human Rights to accept a four-month assignment in Baghdad at the request of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Vieira de Mello is succeeded by Ramiro Lopes da Silva, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq.

The BBC's Jonathan Charles reports from Geneva
"For 30 years Sergio Vieira de Mello championed the cause of peace and stability"

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific