Following are the original and final, edited versions of a key section of a U.N. report that implicates senior Syrian and Lebanese officials in the plot to assassinate former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Chief U.N. investigator Detlev Mehlis said yesterday he edited the section to protect the presumption of innocence and because the account in question relied on a single witness, whose credibility he declined to discuss. U.N. chief spokesman Stephane Dujarric said U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan made no attempt to influence the report or Mehlis's investigation.

Original

"One witness of Syrian origin but resident in Lebanon, who claims to have worked for the Syrian intelligence services in Lebanon, has stated that approximately two weeks after the adoption of Security Council resolution 1559 (on Sept. 2, 2004), Maher Assad, Asef Shawkat, Hassan Khalil, Bahjat Suleiman and Jamil Al-Sayyed decided to assassinate Rafik Hariri. He claimed that Sayyed went several times to Syria to plan the crime, meeting once at the Meridian Hotel in Damascus and several times at the Presidential Place and the office of Shawkat. The last meeting was held in the house of Shawkat approximately 7 to 10 days before the assassination and included Mustapha Hamdan. The witness had close contact with high ranked Syrian officers posted in Lebanon."

Edited

"One witness of Syrian origin but resident in Lebanon, who claims to have worked for the Syrian intelligence services in Lebanon, has stated that approximately two weeks after the adoption of Security Council resolution 1559, senior Lebanese and Syrian officials decided to assassinate Rafik Hariri. He claimed that a senior Lebanese security official went several times to Syria to plan the crime, meeting once at the Meridian Hotel in Damascus and several times at the Presidential Place and the office of a senior Syrian security official. The last meeting was held in the house of the same senior Syrian security official approximately seven to 10 days before the assassination and included another senior Lebanese security official. The witness had close contact with high ranked Syrian officers posted in Lebanon."

The Players

* Maher Assad is the brother of Syrian President Bashar Assad. With his name deleted from the above section, he is not mentioned anywhere in Mehlis's report.

* Assef Shawkat heads Syria's powerful military intelligence and is married to President Assad's only sister, Bushra. His name is mentioned once in the final report.

* General Hassan Khalil of Syria is a retired chief of military intelligence. His name does not appear in the final version.

* Bahjat Suleiman is a member of President Assad's inner circle. His name is nowhere in the final version.

* Maj. Gen. Jamil Sayyed of Lebanon served as head of general security from 1998 until May 2005, when he resigned under heavy pressure from the Lebanese opposition after Hariri's killing. His name is peppered throughout the report as the plot is detailed.

* Brig. Gen. Mustapha Hamdan is one of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud's closest aides, in charge of the president's personal safety. His name also appears frequently throughout the Mehlis report.