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U.N. Calls for Probe Into Death of Hariri

Associated Press
Friday, April 8, 2005; Page A21

UNITED NATIONS, April 7 -- The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to authorize an international investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

The resolution, co-sponsored by the United States, France and Britain, urged the independent commission to complete its work in three months. It gave Secretary General Kofi Annan authority to extend its mandate for another three months if necessary.

Hariri's Feb. 14 death in a bombing sparked massive anti-Syrian street protests in Lebanon. The Lebanese opposition maintains that Syria orchestrated the killing; Syria denies any involvement.

A U.N. report by a fact-finding team concluded last month that a Lebanese probe did not meet international standards. The team, led by deputy Irish police commissioner Peter Fitzgerald, called for an investigation by an outside team.

Lebanon has promised to cooperate with an independent investigation, but the council rejected amendments proposed by the government that would have given it a major role in the inquiry.

The resolution, approved 15 to 0, authorizes an international independent investigation commission to assist Lebanese authorities in their investigation "of all aspects of this terrorist act." It left the commission to decide what role Lebanese authorities would play.

It also called on Lebanese officials to give investigators access to all documents and evidence in their possession. The commission was given authority to collect any additional information and evidence, and "to interview all officials and other persons in Lebanon that the commission deems relevant to the inquiry."

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