13 April 2007Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he is dispatching the United Nations legal chief to Lebanon on Monday to help the Government and the country’s other political leaders to end their political impasse and set up a special tribunal as soon as possible to try the suspected killers of former prime minister Rafik Hariri. Nicholas Michel, the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, will “offer his legal assistance… to help their constitutional procedures,” Mr. Ban told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York, referring to the parliamentary ratification necessary for the tribunal to enter into force. Mr. Ban said he hoped that Mr. Michel’s trip would help to “clarify all concerns or apprehensions” that might exist about the tribunal. In February, on behalf of the UN, Mr. Michel signed the agreement with Lebanon to set up the tribunal, but the country’s parliamentary forces have been deadlocked and there has been no vote so far on the tribunal agreement. The planned special tribunal in Lebanon will be of “an international character” to deal with the assassination of Mr. Hariri, who was killed along with 22 others in a massive car bombing in downtown Beirut in February 2005. Once it is formally established, it will be up to the tribunal to determine whether other political killings in Lebanon since October 2004 were connected to Mr. Hariri’s assassination and could therefore be dealt with by the tribunal. Mr. Michel told journalists today that his aim during the visit would be to “help the Lebanese parties to talk to each other and to find common ground so that the institutional process can be promoted towards ratification of the agreement.” He stressed that the UN had never tried to impose such a tribunal on the Lebanese, but had responded to an initial request from the country’s authorities for such a court. “So I work in that spirit, in the spirit of an assistance to be brought to the Lebanese authorities, in the spirit of a national dialogue, reconciliation, mutual understanding towards the establishment of the tribunal.” In April 2004 the Security Council set up the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the Hariri assassination was seriously flawed and that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded the attack. Its mandate runs out next year. Serge Brammertz, the current head of the IIIC, told the Council last September that evidence obtained so far suggests that a young, male suicide bomber, probably non-Lebanese, detonated up to 1,800 kilograms of explosives inside a van to assassinate Mr. Hariri.
POLICE INVESTIGATING THE disappearance of Irish woman Catherine Gowing in Wales have found a burnt-out car about two miles from her New Brighton home.Although Detective Superintendent John Hanson confirmed the vehicle discovered on Pinfold Lane at Altami near Mold was a five-door Renault Cio, he said they could not be sure it is Catherine’s car at this time.Officers were contacted by a member of the public who had come across the car on Thursday evening at about 7.15pm.“The area has been cordoned off and forensically secured and an examination of the vehicle and immediate area continues to establish the vehicle’s true identity and secure any evidence which assist us find Catherine,” Hanson said in an update this morning. “Once this is confirmed a further statement will be released.“Catherine is still missing and her last known sighting is at 8.39pm on Friday, 12 October when she was seen on CCTV leaving Asda Supermarket in Queensferry.”A 46-year-old man remains in custody on suspicion of Catherine’s murder. Police have until this evening to question him. It is understood the man is known to the missing 37-year-old.More: Catherine Gowing: Partial text sent to colleague on weekend she disappeared>Read: Catherine Gowing’s sister say they feel “lost” as they desperately try to find her>