Tags: un | hammarskjold | death | probe

UN Urged to Reopen Probe Into Former Secretary General's Death

Tuesday, 10 Sep 2013 09:46 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

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A commission looking into the death of former U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold has recommended that the world body reopen its investigation, the BBC reports.
 
Hammarskjold's plane was traveling to the Congo on a peace mission on Sept.18,1961 when it crashed near Ndola in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, killing all but one of the passengers and flight crew.
 
A U.N. probe the following year failed to establish the cause of the accident.
 
Now, more than a half-century later, the commission said there were significant new findings, and that U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) data might hold crucial evidence.
 
U.N. officials expressed their appreciation for the commission’s work and said the U.N. secretariat would study its findings closely.
 
At the time of the crash, Hammarskjold was trying to negotiate a peace agreement between Congo's Soviet-backed government and Moise Tshombe, who had declared independence for its mineral-rich province of Katanga.
 
The U.N. secretary-general was going to Ndola to meet Tshombe, who was backed by former colonial power Belgium and some Western mining interests, according to the BBC.
 
Three investigations have failed to determine the cause of the crash, and many conspiracy theories have swirled around Hammarskjold's death.
 
An official U.N. inquiry concluded that foul play could not be ruled out.
 
The current Hammarskjold Commission report, written by four international lawyers, said there was "significant new evidence" in the case.
 
It said the claim of an aerial attack — which might have caused the descent of the plane by direct damage or by harassment — could be proven or disproven.
 
The report said that given the NSA's worldwide monitoring activities at that time, "it is highly likely" that the radio traffic related to the crash was recorded by the NSA and possibly also by the CIA.
 
The report said: "Authenticated recordings of any such cockpit narrative or radio messages, if located, would furnish potentially conclusive evidence of what happened.”
 
The Commission said it had made Freedom of Information Act requests on the matter — which were rejected on national-security grounds — but that an appeal had been lodged.

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