Friday, December 09, 2005


Mehlis Leaves Hariri Probe (And Yet Another Witness Recants)

Back in October, Charles noted the following things about the Hariri assassination and the UN/Lebanese investigation thereof:

I have raised questions about the Fitzgerald report in posts below and will recapitulate these in comments here. But Robert Parry, one of the ten real journalists left in the United States of America, has laid out good reason to question the UN Report here and here. Briefly:
* The van used for the assassination came from Japan. No subsequent chain of custody has been given.
* A key witness, Zuhir Ibn Mohamed Said Saddik, " is a convicted swindler who was caught in lies by the U.N. investigative team." [Cue the Chalabi theme song.]
* "Saddik apparently was paid for supplying his testimony."
* The UN report discounted the testimony of another witness who "said [the accused assassin] Abu Adass 'played no role in the crime except as a decoy … forced at gunpoint to record the videotape' before being killed."
Now, as Detlev Mehlis, the UN's chief investigator into Hariri's death, announces his withdrawal from the probe, we find that yet another of his witnesses against the Syrians has recanted, telling a story remarkably like that of Saddik's:
Meanwhile, the professor also noted that the Syrian witness who recently recanted his testimony and alleged that he was forced to testify against senior Syrian officials under duress and by bribery from Lebanese officials. Husam Taher Husam, a Syrian Kurd who served as an agent for Syrian and Lebanese intelligence in Lebanon, appeared on state television shortly before the Vienna interrogation. The UN commission, having questioned more than 500 witnesses since June, immediately dismissed Husam's allegations, saying that the witness had volunteered and even expressed fear about the repercussions from the Syrian authorities.
I found out about this from CNN International's lunchtime news program today. (It's not up on their website yet, but when/if it shows up, I'll post it here.) CNN International mentioned that some of the persons involved with the UN probe are claiming that Husam was a "Syrian plant" intended to sabotage the investigation. Two recantations so far -- that we know about. Granted, Syrian state TV mustn't be confused with an actual fair-and-balanced news organization like Al-Jazeera. But if more recantations keep happening, it's going to be harder to explain them away with the plants-or-cowed-men theory.

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