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Results of Syria's chemical weapons probe could be used in further inquiry: team head

English.news.cn   2013-12-14 10:19:09            

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- The UN's top inspector of Syria chemical arms said Friday his team's report "could be useful" in any possible further investigation into who used the weapons.

However, Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, head of the UN mission which submitted its final report to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, refused to speculate on who might have used chemical weapons in any of the seven attacks the mission investigated out of the 16 allegations referred to it.

"We have gathered as much information as we could," he said at a press briefing at the UN headquarters.

"What eventually will happen with this information -- how it will be used in the future -- we don't know, but it could be useful if the issue is to be pursued by some other body."

"These hats (worn on the mission) could be used by others that have the mandate to use them," he said, referring to a possible further investigation. "We don't have the mandate."

Sellstrom was appointed by the secretary-general in March to head an investigation into allegations of use of chemical weapons in Syria, but not to determine who may have used them. The mission was a joint UN-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) endeavor.

"I could speculate -- and I frequently, when I sit by myself or (with) my friends -- I speculate on these issues," Sellstrom said. "But I don't have information that would stand in court. I don't have information that would stand in court if I was the one to be in court."

At the outset of the session with reporters, Sellstrom explained that "to go into attribution (of the chemical weapons attack) requires quite some more effort."

He said the guidelines the UN-OPCW team was working under were "set by member states and they are not very intrusive. I think it was a wise decision that we didn't go into attribution."

He was accompanied at the briefing by UN Undersecretary-General Angela Kane, the UN high representative for disarmament affairs, Scott Cairns of the OPCW and Dr. Maurizio Barbeschi of the World Health Organization (WHO).

They were equally as careful as Sellstrom was in not giving a hint of any of their suspicions as to who the perpetrators might be.

Asked if the team had enough time for their investigation, especially considering it was carried out in a nation undergoing civil war, Sellstrom replied, "Given the circumstances, I think we had enough time and resources."

Sellstrom and his colleagues gathered information and evidence, including fragments of possible weapons, interviews from witnesses, samples taken from alleged victims of chemical weapon attacks, and preserved all the evidence through a chain of custody that still exists.

Asked on Thursday before the mission's report was formally submitted, chief UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said any possible further action would have to be decided by the UN Security Council.

Related:

Those guilty of chemical weapons attacks in Syria must be held accountable: UN chief

UNITED NATIONS, Dec.13 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called on the international community to hold accountable those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

"The international community has a moral and political responsibility to hold accountable those responsible, to deter future incidents and to ensure that chemical weapons can never re-emerge as an instrument of warfare," Ban said as he was presenting to the UN General Assembly a final report of an international probe team. Full story

UN chief receives final report of Syria's chemical weapons probe

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon said here Thursday that he just received the final report of Syria's chemical weapons probe, and he will brief the UN General Assembly on the report Friday and the UN Security Council Monday.

The secretary-general made the statement to the press here shortly after he got the report from Ake Sellstrom, the head of an international probe into the alleged use of chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian conflict. Sellstrom is also a Swedish scientist, an expert in chemical weapons. Full story

Editor: Shen Qing
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