Beirut, 28 Nov. (AKI) – The Lebanese government is expected on Thursday to ask UN secretary general Kofi Annan to extend the 25 December deadline for the completion of a probe into the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. Lebanese premier Fuad Siniora government’s wants more time to be given to German judge Detlev Mehlis who is heading the commission of inquiry, Lebanese parliamentary sources say. An extension will enable the commission to complete the investigations and to work together with Lebanese authorities to prepare the trial of those alleged to be responsible for the 14 February bomb blast that killed Hariri and 20 others in a Beirut street.

According to the sources, the Lebanese government will also decide on Thursday whether to request the creation of an international tribunal to try the suspects or whether the proceedings will be handled by Lebanese judges. Damascus will on Tuesday dispatch five top Syrian security officials to Vienna where they will be questioned by Mehlis in connection with Hariri’s killing. According to a report in the London-based Arab daily, al-Hauyat, the five are: Colonel Rustum Ghazale, former head of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon; his deputy Jamaa Jamaa; two of his aides, Abd al-Karim Abbas and Zaher Yunis; and, Samih al-Qashani, who co-ordinated the activities of Syrian intelligence operatives in the northern Lebanon region of Metn.

One top official wanted for questioning by Mehlis, but who is not expected to be in Vienna is the head of Syria’s military intelligence, Asef Shawkat – a brother-in-law to Syrian president Basher al-Assad.