Lebanon leader quizzed in Hariri probe
U.N. team looks into phone calls from palace around assassination
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated February 14.
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BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Two members of a U.N. team investigating the February assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on Friday interviewed Lebanon's pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, his office said.
Lahoud gave the investigators the "true and accurate facts" about phone calls made from the presidential palace before and after the assassination, and he discounted "rumors" in the media, the presidential statement said.
A preliminary report from U.N. investigators last month said that a man accused of being involved in the plot to kill Hariri, Mahmud Abdel-Al, telephoned Lahoud minutes before the February 14 explosion in central Beirut that killed the former prime minister and 20 other people.
Lahoud has steadfastly denied having any role in the death of Hariri, who was a leading opponent of Syria's military occupation of Lebanon.
Lahoud has specifically denied that he received a call from the suspect.
The assassination sparked a wave of protests in Beirut that helped lead to Syria's announced withdrawal from the country in April.
Abdel-Al and his brother, Ahmad, have been charged by Lebanese authorities in connection with Hariri's assassination. Lahoud's spokesman said the two had ties to a radical Sunni fundamentalist group, Al-Ahbash.
The preliminary U.N. report concluded that there was "converging evidence" that Syrian leaders and pro-Syrian Lebanese officials were involved in the assassination. Syria has denied any role. (Full story)
The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Syria cooperate with the investigation, although it stopped short of threatening Syria with sanctions if it refuses to comply.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has insisted that his government is cooperating, although he dismissed the U.N. probe on Thursday as a "game" designed to create "chaos" for his nation.
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