Marshall Islands Nominate Jamil Sayyed as Their Paris-Based Envoy to UNESCO

The Marshall Islands have nominated former Lebanese General Security chief Maj. Gen. Jamil Sayyed, who was detained in connection with ex-premier Rafik Hariri's assassination, as their envoy to UNESCO, the U.N. agency said Monday.

The move could see Sayyed given immunity from prosecution as the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon looks into the Hariri case.

"I can confirm that the government of the Marshall Islands sent us a letter indicating that this person would represent it," Sue Williams, a spokeswoman for UNESCO, the U.N.'s Paris-based cultural agency, told Agence France Presse.

French newspaper Le Figaro had on Monday reported Sayyed's nomination, saying: "Thanks to the diplomatic immunity that would be available to him, the former spymaster would avoid possible prosecution by The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL)."

As host of UNESCO, France would need to grant Sayyed a visa to take up his post. A foreign ministry spokesman could not say how Paris would respond to a visa request.

Sayyed was arrested following the death of Hariri and 22 other people in a Beirut bomb attack on February 14, 2005 that was initially blamed on pro-Syrian Lebanese generals.

He was detained for four years but released in 2009 along with three other generals, after the STL said there was not sufficient evidence to keep them.

The trial of four Hizbullah members accused of murdering Hariri opened near The Hague last month, nine years after the huge Beirut blast provoked a political crisis that led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops after a 29-year presence in Lebanon.

The Marshall Islands are a former U.S. territory of around 70,000 residents in the Pacific Ocean.

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