New inquiry into death of UN's Dag Hammarskjold

LONDON (AP) — A group of international jurists has been commissioned to reinvestigate the 1961 death of U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, one of the Cold War's most enduring mysteries.

A statement released Wednesday by a committee of former officials and academics said the team would reexamine the case with an eye toward trying to getting an answer to the question of what happened to Hammarskjold, whose death cut short the career of a man many consider the U.N.'s most effective leader.

British lawmaker and former trade unionist David Lea, the committee's chair, said in a statement that "the whole truth, in significant respects, has yet to be told."

Hammarskjold's plane went down over the thick forests of Northern Rhodesia, now known as Zambia, on the night of Sept. 17, 1961. Hammarskjold was one of 15 people to die as a result of the crash.

Hammarskjold had been in the midst of negotiating an agreement to end the deadly fighting between the government of Congo and its independence-minded, mineral-rich province of Katanga — a deadly struggle shot through with post-colonial intrigue and Cold War rivalries. Three investigations failed to determine the cause of the crash, leaving his fate clouded by conspiracy theory. Some claim the Americans had Hammarskjold killed. Others believe that mercenaries backed by Western business interests were responsible. Other theories pointed the finger at the Soviets, who accused Hammarskjold of complicity in the execution of Moscow-backed Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba. A more recent, less sinister hypothesis blamed pilot fatigue.

Lea — who was joined on the committee by Henning Melber, the executive director of the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, and Nigeria's Emeka Anyaoku, the former Commonwealth secretary-general — said that more evidence was still spilling into the public domain. In particular, he cited the 2011 book, "Who Killed Hammarskjold?" by fellow committee member Susan Williams, whose work alleges that the U.N. leader's death was deliberate and that damning evidence was covered up.

The new inquiry has no official standing but includes several high-profile jurists, including South African Justice Richard Goldstone, who led the U.N. fact-finding mission on the conflict in the Gaza Strip. The remaining members are retired British Lord Justice Stephen Sedley, former Swedish diplomat Hans Correll, and Wilhelmina Thomassen, a Dutch Supreme Court judge.

The inquiry hopes to complete its report within a year and submit its findings to the U.N.

___

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Join the Conversation!

To comment, the following rules must be followed:

  • No Obscenity, Profanity, Vulgarity, Racism or Violent Descriptions
  • No Negative Community Comparisons
  • No Fighting, Name-calling, or Personal Attacks
  • Multiple Accounts are Not Allowed
  • Stay on Story Topic

Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.

Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to webmaster@wvlt-tv.com. Please provide detailed information.

powered by Disqus

WVLT VOLUNTEER TV

6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2014 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 162946626