Thursday, December 18, 2008

UNIIC progress (?!)


The Commissioner of the UNIIC issued the "Eleventh report of the International Independent Investigation Commission" in December. The report is rather vague, reporting with respect to the Hariri murder:

"... The Commission shares the Lebanese people's frustration with the uncertainty about the time needed to complete the investigation... the Commission has refined its procedures to accommodate, in a secure environment, any potential witness who appears to be in physical danger ... For every inch of progress there is a mile of activity. Progress in an investigation is as much about excluding some leads as following up others. During the reporting period, certain information collected was deemed reliable and led to further investigation, while other information allowed some leads to be excluded ... The investigation into the Hariri case continues to be active in all areas. During the reporting period, the Commission's work has included forensic examinations; gathering and analysis of information from a wide range of sources; and 288 interviews ... Progress has been made ... the Commission has identified new information that may slow the Commission to link additional individuals ... collecting additional soil, sand and water samples from States in the region and additional isotopic investigations. The results of these activities help to identify the possible geographic origin of the suicide bomber ... the Commission has placed renewed emphasis on reviewing financial transactions that may relate to the attacks. The Commission's investigation in this area has already yielded leads that are being followed up ... The Commission has also completed and reviewed the inventory of exhibits, including exhibits previously held by the Lebanese authorities. This inventory consists of a total of over 10,000 forensic exhibits including more than 7,000 that relate to the Hariri case ..."

This could mean a lot, it could mean nothing. The report asks that its mandate, which expires December 31st, 2008, be extended to February 29th, 2009. The Special Tribunal is supposed to start March 1st, 2009, does this signify that we are reaching a denouement? Perhaps, though perhaps not - the report does say "... The launch of the Tribunal does not mean that the investigation has been completed..."

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