New UN panel to probe Swedish hero’s crash

AFP/The Local
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New UN panel to probe Swedish hero’s crash
Dag Hammarskjöld. Photo: TT

The mysterious death of a top Swedish diplomat in 1961 is set to be investigated by a new United Nations panel of independent experts later this month.


The UN has named the group which will reopen reopen an investigation into the death of UN secretary-general Dag Hammarskjöld in a plane crash more than fifty years ago.


Hammarskjöld died at age 56 when his DC-6 aircraft came down near Ndola, in northern Rhodesia, now known as Zambia.


He was on his way to negotiate a ceasefire in the newly independent Congo

and was set to meet with Moise Tshombe, the leader of the province of Katanga,

which had seceded from the Congo and proclaimed its independence.


At Sweden's request, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on December 29th, calling for experts to examine all "new information" related to the diplomat's death in southern Africa on a peace mission to the Congo.


The three-person panel of experts will be lead by Mohamed Chande Othman of

Tanzania, a former chief prosecutor of the international tribunal for Rwanda.


Assisting him will be Kerryn Macaulay, Australia's representative to the Organization of International Civil Aviation, and Henrik Ejrup Larsen, a ballistics expert with the Danish police.


The experts will begin their work March 30th and are to present a report to

UN chief Ban Ki-moon by June 30th.


They will "review and assess the probative value of the information provided to the secretary-general by the Hammarskjold Commission as well as any relevant records or information released by member states or by other sources," said UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq.


In September 2013, the Hammarskjöld Commission called on the United Nations to reopen the investigation, saying there was "convincing evidence"

that the UN chief's plane was shot down as it prepared to land in Ndola.


Witnesses questioned by the commission spoke of the presence of another

aircraft that fired on the DC-6.


The commission, which was composed of jurists and diplomats, also asked the

US National Security Agency to provide access to recordings it may have of

conversations in the plane's cockpit and radio messages that the crew may have

made in 1961.


Until now, that material has been classified as "secret."


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