October 11, 2005 Special Dispatch No. 1001

In the Syrian Media: Personal Attacks on Head of International U.N. Committee Investigating Al-Hariri Assassination

October 11, 2005
Syria, Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 1001

Over the last few days, Syrian government dailies have been publishing articles which include personal attacks on Detlev Mehlis, head of the International U.N. Committee that is investigating the murder of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri. The Syrian dailies quote pro-Syrian Lebanese articles and journalists who accuse Mehlis of spending his time drinking wine on yachts, and state that he has therefore lost his credibility.

The following are excerpts from the articles:

Mehlis Leads a Life of Luxury Drinking Wine on Board Yachts

The Syrian daily Al-Thawra published an article by Lebanese journalist Maria Ma'loof, in which she wrote:

"Since Mehlis began investigating the assassination of Prime Minister Al-Hariri, there have been continuous efforts to provide him with a legal and judicial halo, and to present him as equivalent to the legendary investigators seen on movie screens, such as Kojak, Columbo, and Inspector Gadget. But the performance of the international investigator [Mehlis], who previously suffered failures and bungled various investigations in Germany, has begun to deteriorate in light of basic questions that he has failed to even raise, let alone answer...

"The German fox overlooked all these facts, and others. Lately, there have been more and more reports about his indulgent life on board yachts, of his wine drinking, and of his immersion in Lebanese luxury, which make him lose his objectivity. [They] also cause him to lose sight of his earnest endeavor to arrive at the truth, and of the importance of the case that he has undertaken. Hence his strange behavior lately at the Bonita Resort, on one of the beaches of Al-Bathrun, where he embarrassed people by appearing all of a sudden accompanied by watchdogs and several heavily armed FBI personnel, creating a great disturbance in the restaurant and its surroundings. This made people wonder who this important figure was, who has taken over the entire restaurant, making the other diners flee in fear and apprehension." [1]

When a Judge Tries a Case Involving Two Parties, and Has a Personal Relationship with One of Them, He Must Recuse Himself

The Syrian government daily Teshreen quotes Charles Ayyub, editor of the Lebanese newspaper Al-Diyar, who was interviewed on the New TV channel. Ayyub claimed that Mehlis is leading an active social life on yachts. He added that Mehlis is close to certain Lebanese individuals, and that he consequently cannot perform his job faithfully:

"Regarding the connection between the life of luxury led by Mehlis and his credibility as an international investigator, Ayyub said: 'In their social lives, judges, investigators and people in prominent positions are usually obliged to curb their behavior. For example, the head of the Supreme Court cannot accept the invitation of a rich person to board a yacht, and cannot drink a bottle of wine costing $1,200 when his [monthly] salary is $3,000. Thus, when Judge Mehlis, whose report is anticipated by the Lebanese people, is seen on a yacht drinking a bottle of wine costing $1,200, we ask: Is this the kind of judge who comes to [conduct] an investigation, sits in his office examining every detail, and leads a restricted social life in order to carry out a task outside his country? I believe that an international judge and investigator who is dealing with a most important case should accept no [offers] beyond an invitation to coffee. In every court of law, it is known, for example, that when a judge tries a case involving two parties, and he has a personal relationship with one of them, he must recuse himself, so that he will not be both an adversary and an arbitrator.'

"Ayyub added: 'When Minister Marwan Hamada says in an debate with Minister of Justice Charles Rizq, "I always have lunch and dinner with Mehlis," and adds that "Syria and its security apparatus" have tried to kill him and that it is they who assassinated prime minister Al-Hariri, then [this means that] Judge Mehlis has fallen under influence. Boarding a yacht has its influence, and his expenses have their influence. Is he [living] at the expense of the United Nations, or at the expense of the Lebanese wealthy? Hence, this judge can no longer carry out his work with credibility.

"'We therefore have the right to say: 'The Lebanese people hear of Mehlis day and night. This man lives on a yacht and drinks wine costing $1,200 a bottle. This is wrong.'

"Ayyub stressed: 'I have in my possession a photograph of the yacht, and all the information, including the exact time at which Mehlis boarded it. If Mehlis denies that he drank that kind of wine, I have [evidence] to confirm that he did.'" [2]

There is a Need for an Inquiry Committee to Investigate Mehlis Himself

The daily Al-Thawra published an article by Charles Ayyub in which he claimed that the Inquiry Committee had overlooked information provided by France, namely that the witness who accused Syria of the murder had lied. Ayyub therefore stated that an inquiry committee should be appointed to investigate Mehlis himself.

"France and the French security services, which are respectable [sources], came to Mehlis as soon as they become convinced that Al-Sadiq's story was false, and proposed to provide him with authentic information. [They] told Mehlis that they could not continue to [accept] the lies that this defecting Syrian [officer] told in his various stories. However, Mehlis and the international committee ignored the French offer...

"After this scandal, the International Inquiry Committee now needs an inquiry committee to investigate Judge Mehlis, since the credibility of the International Committee has collapsed due to its reliance on the Al-Sadiq's false account.

"Al-Diyar adds: 'The Lebanese government may be cowardly and may wish to cover up this scandal by requesting an extension for the International Committee. But the Lebanese people will by no means agree that a German judge who spends time on yachts and has been lured by the glitter of money should put our future in danger [merely] because a certain intelligence service was able to find a weak citizen so in need of money that he was willing to sell out to Judge Mehlis, and to sell his story [to the committee].' [3]

[1] Al-Thawra [Syria] October 9, 2005 .

[2] Teshreen, [Syria], October 10, 2005 .

[3] Al-Thawra, [Syria] October 10, 2005 .

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