Page last updated at 21:43 GMT, Friday, 28 March 2008

UN says 'network' killed Hariri

Assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri
Rafik Hariri was killed using a lorry full of explosives

A UN commission investigating the death of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri says the evidence suggests a network of people was responsible for the attack.

No individuals were named, but the investigators said what it called the "Hariri Network" might also be behind other deadly attacks in Lebanon.

The ex-PM and 22 others died in a huge car bombing in Beirut in February 2005.

Past UN inquiries suggested that Syrian and Lebanese intelligence forces had played a role - which Syria denied.

The commission said the evidence indicated that the network existed before his assassination and carried out surveillance of the former prime minister.

This implies more clearly the direction of the inquiry... The iceberg is slowly melting
Marwan Hmadeh,
Communications Minister

It said at least part of the network continued to operate after Mr Hariri's killing.

Lebanon has been in crisis and without a president for months, amid a drawn-out power struggle between the pro- and anti-Syrian factions.


This was the 10th report to be issued by the commission, but the first since Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare took charge of the panel from Belgium's Serge Brammertz at the beginning of this year.


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The report says it can now confirm "on the basis of available evidence, that a network of individuals acted in concert to carry out the assassination... and that this criminal network - the 'Hariri Network' - or parts thereof are linked to some of the other cases within the commission's mandate".

It does not say whether the group was politically motivated.

But it says progress is being made in identifying both the suicide bomber who killed Mr Hariri and the individuals who belonged to the network which plotted the killing.

It says it has received close co-operation from Lebanese authorities, and "generally satisfactory" co-operation from Syria - a country which continues to deny official involvement in the Hariri killing.

But did the criminal network have political motives?
Andy Roberts, UK

However, the report identifies some problems hampering the investigation - including the "deteriorating" security situation in Lebanon, and a lack of resources from the UN itself.

The commission is using forensic information and DNA profiling in its investigation.

The UN is currently setting up a tribunal which it is hoped will try those suspected of Mr Hariri's murder.

Complex politics

As well as being a dominant figure in Lebanese politics in the period after the civil war ended in 1990, Mr Hariri was also a business tycoon.

A self-made billionaire, he was among the richest individuals in the world.

Mr Hariri's death triggered huge demonstrations in Lebanon against the Syrians.

Despite its denial of involvement, Damascus eventually bowed to international pressure, pulling out its troops after nearly 30 years of military presence.

Investigators have previously pointed to links between Mr Hariri's death and many other attacks in Lebanon since 2004.

Analysts say Lebanon is the most politically complex and religiously divided country in the Middle East.

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Aftermath of the 2005 attack

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