Vol. 5 Num 295 Sat. March 26, 2005  

Hariri killing probe flawed, says UN

Lebanon's inquiry into the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri was seriously flawed and an independent investigation is needed to "find the truth," a UN fact-finding team said on Thursday.

In what could be the most damning piece of evidence, the team's report gave credence to alleged threats made at a meeting of "physical harm" by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Hariri prior to his Sept. 8 resignation as Lebanon's prime minister.

The report cited numerous accounts of the meeting between the two based on Hariri's statements to others. They had met to discuss extending the term of Lebanon's Syrian-backed President Emile Lahoud, which Hariri and Druze opposition leader Walid Jumblatt opposed.

Assad was quoted as saying he "would rather break Lebanon over the heads of Hariri and Jumblatt than see his word in Lebanon broken."