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Hariri told UN investigator Syria killed father

Saad Hariri informed a UN commission, Syria was behind his father`s killing.



Beirut: Lebanon`s caretaker Prime
Minister Saad Hariri informed a UN commission Syria was behind
his father`s killing, according to a leaked recording of a
2007 meeting between Hariri and an investigator probing the
case.

In the audio-tape, aired late yesterday on Lebanese
television and authenticated by Hariri`s office, the acting
premier singled out a string of Syrian officials he held
responsible for the 2005 bombing that killed his father,
ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, and 22 others.

The leak also featured the normally reserved Hariri
openly accusing Syrian leaders of blackmailing his father and
slamming President Bashar al-Assad as an "idiot".

In the recording, Hariri tells investigator Lajmi
Mohammad Ali in a meeting on July 30, 2007 that Syrian Foreign
Minister Walid Muallem warned his father he was "walking on
dangerous ground" weeks before his death.

"If you ask me how it (the assassination) happened and
why it happened, I think that Assef Shawkat and Maher
(al-Assad) had a huge role in the preparation ... in pushing
(Syrian President) Bashar (al-Assad) to take that decision,"
Hariri said in English.

Shawkat, Assad`s brother-in-law, is Syria`s military
intelligence chief. Maher al-Assad is the brother of the
Syrian president and former head of the presidential guard.

The tape was aired by New TV, which is close to
Hezbollah, on the eve of indictments set to be submitted by
the prosecutor of the Netherlands-based Special Tribunal for
Lebanon (STL), which is investigating Hariri`s murder.

The powerful Shiite militant group has said it
believes some of its members will be implicated in the killing
and has warned it will defend itself.

Hariri, whose office issued a statement apologising to
several local figures he criticised in the recording, had
especially harsh words for Assad, whom he has sought to move
closer to over the past year.

"You know Bashar became president when he was 34 and
... went to the first Arab summit ... and he gave a lecture to
kings and presidents who have been there for the past 15
years," said Hariri, who was not premier at the time of the
interview. "And it struck me: you idiot, the least you could
do is not give a lecture about Arabism."

Hariri also accused Syrian intelligence official
Rustum Ghazali of blackmail, saying he regularly took as much
as USD 90,000 in cash from his father and requested other
services.

Ghazali was head of Syrian military intelligence in
Lebanon from 2002 until 2005, when Damascus pulled its troops
from its smaller neighbour after a 29-year deployment.

PTI

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