Syria May Not Cooperate With Tribunal

The Associated Press
Friday, November 24, 2006; 9:58 PM

UNITED NATIONS -- Syria suggested Friday it may not cooperate with a planned international tribunal to prosecute the suspected killers of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri because Damascus was not consulted on the plan, according to a letter circulated at the U.N.

An ongoing U.N. investigation into the February 2005 truck bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others has said the killing's complexity suggested the Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services played a role in the assassination.

Syria, which has denied1107 involvement, said in a letter circulated Friday at U.N. headquarters that the tribunal should not be arranged until after the investigation is finished.

It announced that hasty adoption of the court's statute "will firmly establish our belief that Syria has no connection with this tribunal."

"In the event that the statute of the tribunal is adopted, unacceptable transgressions that undermine the sovereignty of certain member states and the rights of their subjects are likely to transpire," Syria wrote.

The Syrian government continues to cooperate in the investigation, the letter added.

The document, addressed to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, was dated Tuesday, when the Security Council authorized Annan to ratify an agreement by the U.N. and the Lebanese government on creation of the tribunal.

The court would sit outside Lebanon, and a majority of judges as well as the prosecutor would be from other nations.

The Lebanese government must now make the final decision on establishment of the court.

On Nov. 13, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's Council of Ministers approved the tribunal plan but pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud challenged the decision.

Saniora has called for a Cabinet session on Saturday to approve the proposed court.

The Syrian mission to the United Nations said no officials were available for comment Friday afternoon.

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