UNIIIC INVESTIGATION "CLOSING DOORS," MAKING PROGRESS

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (www.al-akhbar.com).

Al-Akhbar Management

id: 78754
date: 9/18/2006 10:17
refid: 06BEIRUT3014
origin: Embassy Beirut
classification: SECRET
destination: 06BEIRUT3014
header:
VZCZCXRO5785
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHLB #3014/01 2611017
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 181017Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5642
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 0300
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

----------------- header ends ----------------

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 003014

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/MARCHESE/HARDING

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/19/2026

TAGS: KCRM, LE, PREL, PTER, SY
SUBJECT: UNIIIC INVESTIGATION "CLOSING DOORS," MAKING
PROGRESS

Classified By: Ambassador Jeffrey D. Feltman for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d

SUMMARY
-------

1. (S) Ambassador Feltman and econoff met on 16 September
with UNIIIC head Serge Brammertz to discuss progress on the
investigation ahead of the progress report due 29 September
and UNIIIC investigator Peter Nicholson's visit to
Washington later this month. Brammertz was preoccupied
with the administrative requirements of UNIIIC, proud that
the Hizballah-Israel conflict had not slowed progress in
the investigation, optimistic about GOL plans to move
forward quickly with a tribunal, and open about his plans
to leave UNIIIC when his already extended term expires in
December. While Brammertz did not preview the content of
next report, he gave some detail about the process and
progress of the investigation. End Summary.

CONFLICT HINDERED INVESTIGATION
LESS THAN UN BUREAUCRACY
-------------------------------

2. (C) Brammertz proudly announced that the conflict
between Hizballah and Israel had not decreased Syrian or
Lebanese cooperation or slowed progress in his
investigation. Although Brammertz is still seeking
security assurances, UNIIIC staff are slowly returning from
Cyprus, where they were based during the conflict. The
move should be completed by the end of September, but
Brammertz plans to keep copies of the evidence and findings
in Cyprus for security reasons. Surprisingly, he cited
administrative issues as his largest obstacle, describing
30 to 40 percent of his time as spent on administrative
issues such as hiring more investigators, finding adequate
housing for his staff, and dealing with UN budget
restrictions. He is currently operating without a Chief of
Staff, but expects to have one beginning next week.

3. (S) Brammertz hopes the investigation can conclude by
June 2007, but he expects that, realistically, it could
take an additional 2 or 3 years. He cited a 20 percent
vacancy rate at UNIIIC and an overwhelming number of
investigative leads as reasons for the slow progress, but
described the pace as similar to an investigation in
Europe.

GOL SAY THEY ARE MOVING
QUICKLY TOWARD A TRIBUNAL
-------------------------

4. (C) Some of Brammertz's efforts to increase his staff
may be in preparation for the creation of a tribunal; using
the existing investigative staff as the core of a tribunal,
he said, would speed the transition. Brammertz reported
that in his meeting with Prime Minister Siniora the
previous day the PM said that he hopes to have Cabinet and
Parliamentary approval for the tribunal before November,
enabling implementation of the tribunal beginning early
next year. While Bramertz saw no evidence that either the
GOL or UN had made progress finding a location or funding
for a tribunal, he reiterated his reasoning that an early
transition to a tribunal would have a symbolic effect, even
if he could at this point give only a 50 percent chance
that the tribunal might end with a conviction. He cited
the trial of Slobodan Milosevic in the former Yugoslavia as
an example of a tribunal successfully run without the prior
completion of an investigation.

BRAMMERTZ MOVING ON
-------------------

5. (S) Brammertz said he will not seek a second extension
of his term at UNIIIC, which ends on 31 December, another
possible reason he is laying the administrative groundwork
for transition to a tribunal early next year. While
Bramertz will return to the ICC, he believes most of his
staff will remain with UNIIIC. Asked by the Ambassador, he
said that he could not expect member states of the ICC to
tolerate his prolonged absence, and he is not prepared to
resign from the ICC.

INVESTIGATION SPECIFICS:
"CLOSING DOORS"
------------------------

BEIRUT 00003014 002 OF 002

6. (S) Brammertz said that his next report will include "no
revelations", but will show some progress as new evidence
has confirmed some of UNIIIC's earlier conclusions and
closed some avenues of investigation. Bramertz described
how UNIIIC is gradually closing down some of its 20
simultaneous avenues of investigation through a focus on
forensics, phone records, and media to link suspects.
Brammertz described the importance forensic evidence from
the perpetrator, describing how the "28 part man" has
become the "32 part man," with the discovery of more body
parts at the crime scene. Brammertz said new technology
has increased the speed with which UNIIIC is able to trace
phone records. Brammertz has used these phone records to
pressure Syrian officials to admit relationships they have
previously lied about having. As he has before, he also
eluded to a media connection, which he would not elaborate
on. Brammertz was pleased to admit UNIIIC is "closing some
doors," including its investigation of Bank Al-Medina.
While Bank al-Medina touches many Syrian and Lebanese
officials, Brammertz said, UNIIIC is only looking for links
with the Hariri assassination.

7. (S) Brammertz said there has been no progress
investigating the four generals already arrested. While
there is still no solid evidence against General Jamil
al-Sayyed, Brammertz believes that does not mean he was not
involved or at least aware. He mentioned that Samir
Shehadeh, the target of a car bomb attack on September 5,
has had no contact with the current commission team,
leading Brammertz to believe that his attempted
assassination was motivated by a personal grudge or by
Al-Qaida or a Palestinian organization.

LIMITED INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
-- FROM UNEXPECTED SOURCES
---------------------------------

8. (C) Brammertz described Syrian cooperation as
"generally satisfactory" and "cautiously positive." In
particular he reported he has used phone records to
pressure Syrian officials to admit relationships they have
previously lied about having. However, Brammertz reported
that he has not received answers to his request from nearly
50 percent of countries. Two unnamed European countries
had been particularly problematic, he said. Brammertz
expressed appreciation for US assistance.

FELTMAN

^ Back to Top