PARIS: The Marshall Islands has nominated former General Security head Jamil al-Sayyed, who was detained in connection with the death of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, as their envoy to UNESCO, the U.N. agency said Monday.
The move could see Sayyed given immunity from prosecution as a special U.N. tribunal considers 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 AFP.
French newspaper Le Figaro reported Sayyed’s nomination Monday, saying that “thanks to the diplomatic immunity that would be available to him, the former spymaster would avoid possible prosecution by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.”
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 Downtown Beirut bomb attack on Feb. 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 U.N. said there was not sufficient evidence to keep them.
The Marshall Islands is a former U.S. territory of around 70,000 residents in the Pacific Ocean.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 11, 2014, on page 3.