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UN Team Named to Probe Jenin Attack - 2002-04-22


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan Monday named a three-member team to investigate Israel's attack on the Jenin refugee camp. The fact-finding mission was approved unanimously by the Security Council late Friday.

The fact-finding mission will be led by Martti Ahtisaari, the former president of Finland who has held several high-level U.N. positions through the years. Also on the team are former High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata and Cornelio Somarruga, the former head of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The team will gather in Europe this week. The time-frame for the mission is unclear. The Secretary-General says it is premature to say when the investigative team will have all the facts it needs to make a proper assessment of the situation in Jenin.

Israel initially was reluctant to allow a U.N. probe but agreed Friday to let in a carefully-appointed team. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says Israel has promised to cooperate fully.

"On the question of access, let me say I hope we will have access to everybody," he said. "And in my discussion with senior Israeli officials, who have indicated they have nothing to hide, I have been given their assurance that the team will have access to everyone they want to see and they will be provided information that they need."

The mission will report back directly to the secretary-general, who will then inform the Security Council.

Israel pulled its troops out of Jenin last week.

On the eve of the mission, Mr. Annan refused to characterize any part of the Israeli operation in the harsh terms some of his envoys have used. The Secretary-General says the fact-finding mission will be independent and unbiased.

The three-member team will be accompanied by a military advisor and a police advisor. These include Major General William Nash of the United States and Thomas Peter Fitzgerald of Ireland, both of whom had served with the multinational force in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s.

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