Ghazi Kanaan Shoots Himself Dead Ahead of U.N. Report on Hariri's Murder
President Assad's Interior Minister General Ghazi Kanaan, who ruled Lebanon for years as Syria's military intelligence chief, committed suicide Wednesday a few days ahead of the expected release of a U.N. report into the assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri. He was 63.Kanaan's Aide-de-Camp Brigadier Walid Abaza told the Agence France Presse that Kanaan shot himself in the mouth at his office in the interior ministry building that overlooks the Barada river. "He left to go home then he came back after three quarters of an hour, took a gun from the drawer and fired a bullet into his mouth," Abaza said. But there was widespread speculation abroad that he was either murdered or forced to shoot himself in anticipation of his indictment by U.N. Chief Investigator Detlev Mehlis as the engineer of Hariri's assassination. Syria's official news agency SANA said Authorities were investigating General Kanaan's suicide.Kanaan was military intelligence chief in Lebanon from the 1980s until 2003, presiding over Syria's control of its neighboring country. He reportedly was questioned by U.N. investigators in the probe of Hariri's murder. Hours before he died, Kanaan contacted the Beirut Voice of Lebanon radio station and gave it a statement, concluding with the words: "I believe this is the last statement that I could make." He asked seasoned interviewer 'Wardeh' to pass his comments to other broadcast media.Kanaan said he was making the statement to 'Wardeh' to deny a report by another Beirut TV network, New TV, which said in its evening newscast Tuesday that Kanaan admitted to U.N. investigators that he was involved in money extortion and corruption during what he called 'my reign of Lebanon.' New TV had said Kanaan told investigators that he brought the 2000 Lebanese election law that "we tailored to the measurements of Lebanese politicians loyal to Syria." "Premier Hariri had at the time given me a $10 Million check and another $10 Million check to General Jamil Sayyed," New TV quoted Kanaan as saying in his testimony. "We were making money from Premier Hariri so how could we possibly kill him and close the flow of his riches."General Sayyed was then the head of Lebanon's General Security Department or Surete Generale. He is now in Jail on a charge of complicity in Hariri's Feb. 14 assassination.New TV played back its Tuesday night report about Kanaan's alleged interview with the Mehlis commission, insisting 'it is one hundred percent accurate' despite General Kanaan's denial.Kanaan, who was born in Syria's northern port city of Latakia in 1942, is survived by his wife, four sons and two daughters.(Naharnet -AFP-AP)
-Prime Minister Fouad Saniora said he had no details about the death of Kanaan, who effectively controlled Lebanon as Syria's intelligence chief in the country for about 20 years. "God bless his soul," Saniora told reporters.-An Nahar's General Manager and legislator Gebran Tueni cast doubt on the suicide report."It is not known for sure if he committed suicide, or was made to commit suicide," Tueni told Al-Arabiya TV from Paris. "In Syria, there are some people who want to hide the facts, and don't want everything about the Syrian period in Lebanon to be known.""I don't believe in the suicide story," Tueni told The Associated Press in a phone call from Paris. "The regime is worried that he knew too much about Syria's behavior inside and outside Lebanon. I think the regime felt maybe that he would not play the game they wanted him to play.""What happened today is proof that the Syrian regime is feeling the (U.N.) report is getting closer and closer to them, and they are beginning to panic," Tueni said.-Syrian opposition figure and London-exiled leader of the banned Syrian Muslim Brotherhood group Ali Sadr el-Din Beyanouni told Al-Jazeera that a Kanaan statement to a radio station shortly before his death "indicated that he felt in danger, and this supports rumors that there has been a deal in which the Syrian regime might sacrifice some of its heads for saving the regime."Beyanouni said he could not say whether Kanaan committed suicide or not, but certainly he was "a pillar of the Syrian regime." "Whatever the case, his death is an indictment of the Syrian regime for the assassination of Hariri," al-Beyanouni told the AP.
Beirut/12 Oct 05