Question of Palestine home
21 October 2005
Statement by Mr. Detlev Mehlis
United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission
In response to questions raised in the media about the drafting of the report of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission, I wish to clarify certain questions regarding the report’s preparation. No one outside my team played any role in the drafting or preparation of the report.
All editorial changes throughout the two-week process of drafting the report were made at my direction. That process continued until yesterday afternoon when the final version of the report was submitted to the Secretary-General. A description of the events of 20 October is set out below.
It is important to note that during the drafting process, in keeping with established legal procedures and prosecutorial principles, and given that I was informed that the report would be made public, I established a rule that any person named in witness testimony should not be named in the report unless that person has been charged with a crime related to the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al Hariri. I have endeavoured to ensure that all other names have been redacted from the report, the early drafts of which naturally included more information than was meant to end up in its final version.
It is also essential to understand that the report, as a matter of necessity, does not represent the full product of the investigation. That product includes a substantial amount of evidence, including more than 16,000 pages of technical reports and the statements of more than 450 witnesses. The Commission has given that evidence to the Lebanese authorities for them to use as they complete the investigation.
The events of 19-20 October proceeded as follows:
A draft of the report was completed in the early hours of 19 October in at the UN Office in Vienna by the Commission drafting team and I proceeded to New York with colleagues later that morning. I arrived in New York on the afternoon of 19 October.
My team and I began to edit the document from the morning of 20 October.
At a little after 11:30 am I met with the Secretary-General and other senior officials, as had been previously scheduled. Because the final editing of the report was continuing, I gave the Secretary-General the draft as it stood at that time so that he could familiarise himself with the basic conclusions of the report, and informed him that he would receive the final version later in the afternoon.
Editing of the report continued throughout the day, until a scheduled 3:00 pm meeting with the Secretary-General. At that meeting, I handed the report to the Secretary-General and we discussed the contents of the report. Neither the Secretary-General nor any member of his staff suggested any changes. No changes were made to the document after that meeting.
After the meeting, my staff gave the document to the Secretariat for distribution to the members of the Security Council.
21 October 2005