German attorney to head Hariri investigation

A German prosecutor has been named by the UN to lead an investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, after the first two candidates for the job backed out.

Detlev Mehlis, the senior public prosecutor in the Berlin attorney general’s office, has overseen terrorism and organized crime cases as well as investigations into trans-national crime, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement.

The Security Council approved the probe into Hariri’s February 14 assassination on April 8, but the first two candidates turned down the job, UN officials said. The investigation is expected to include more than 50 people, administrative and security staff are also expected to be included in the investigation.

The UN Security Council on April 7 ordered an outside inquiry after a UN fact-finding mission, led by Irish Deputy Police Commissioner Peter Fitzgerald, concluded that Lebanon’s own probe into the killing had “serious flaws” and could not reach a credible conclusion.

Also on Friday, Annan said that a UN team which had been sent to Lebanon to verify the withdrawal was finished with its work and would report back to him next week.