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French Version


Lebanese ex-MP held in Hariri probe freed

A pro-Syrian figure questioned by U.N. investigators as a suspect in the killing of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri was freed on Wednesday, but four generals will appear before a magistrate.

Former member of parliament Nassir Qandil said he was freed around 1:30 a.m. (11:30 p.m. British time), hours after he handed himself in to the United Nations team probing the killing that shook Lebanon and hastened the departure of Syrian troops after 29 years.

"I am always prepared to give all the probe requires in its actions, if the team believes we have something that would benefit the investigation," Qandil told Reuters.

"We ... want the truth, not like those who are trading with the blood of the martyred prime minister for small goals."

Qandil declined to discuss the details of the detentions, the first concrete steps by U.N. investigators implicating allies of Syria in the February bombing that killed Hariri and 20 others in Beirut.

Security sources said three former pro-Syrian security chiefs and the head of Lebanon's Republican Guard, Brigadier General Mustafa Hamdan, would appear later on Wednesday before a Lebanese magistrate who will decide whether to order their arrest or release.

Lebanese police detained Major General Jamil al-Sayyed, former head of General Security, Major General Ali Hajj, ex-chief of police, and Brigadier General Raymond Azar, former military intelligence chief on Tuesday at the request of U.N. investigators for questioning.

Qandil and Hamdan, a close aide of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud and the only security chief to keep his job after parliamentary elections that ended in June ushered in an anti-Syrian majority, handed themselves over to the U.N. team.

The five men were named by Lebanon and the U.N. team as suspects in the Hariri assassination.

The Security Council ordered an international probe into Hariri's killing after a U.N. fact-finding mission found Lebanon incapable of carrying out a credible inquiry.

Beirut 31-08-2005
Rédaction
AP



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