In New Brammertz Report, the U.N. Hariri Investigation Goes Backwards

In New Brammertz Report, the U.N. Hariri Investigation Goes Backwards

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- One looks in vain for names in the 22-page report. Last week, Special Investigator Serge Brammertz submitted the ninth U.N. report on the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. But hopes that the 45-year-old Belgian prosecutor would name suspects went unfulfilled. Invoking the confidentiality of the investigations, for the seventh time since assuming his responsibilities in January 2006, Brammertz declined to identify the possible perpetrators of the crime.

Brammertz's predecessor, Detlev Mehlis, had proceeded otherwise. In the first report of the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) in October 2005, the prosecutor from Berlin leveled serious charges against Syria, which two months after the murder of Hariri ended its 29-year military presence in Lebanon.

Brammertz's seventh report for the commission will also be his last: In the New Year he will be replacing Carla Del Ponte as chief prosecutor of the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. In addition to the assassination of Hariri, Brammertz has also investigated a series of other murders. The fact that he has again failed to name suspects has provoked dissatisfaction both in Lebanon and beyond. The murders, after all, have not only burdened the relationship between Damascus and Beirut, but also render more difficult the attempted rapprochement between Syria and other Arab states that was on view at the Middle East conference in Annapolis last week.

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