Countries urged to continue to support probe into death of former UN chief

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UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld holding a press conference at UN Headquarters on 24 March 1960. UN Photo.

It is plausible that an external attack caused the September 1961 plane crash that killed former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and others travelling with him.

That's according to a report by an external expert appointed by the global body to review potential new information related to the crash.

It was transmitted by the current UN Secretary-General, António Guterres to the President of the General Assembly on Wednesday.

Dianne Penn reports.

The report was prepared by Mohamed Chande Othman, a former Chief Justice of Tanzania.

Among its conclusions is that Mr Hammarskjöld and his party were not assassinated after landing, and that all passengers died from injuries sustained either during the crash or soon after.

The report noted that it remains possible that the crash was an accident caused by pilot error without external interference, and it was plausible human factors, including fatigue, could have played a role.

Farhan Haq is the UN Deputy Spokesperson.

"Based on the Eminent Person's findings, the Secretary-General is of the view that the information made available to the United Nations to date has been insufficient to come to conclusions about the cause or causes of the crash. The Secretary-General also considers that it seems likely that important additional information exists."

The report recommends the Secretary-General to follow up with further inquiries into the crash, and says that "the burden of proof" has now switched to Member States, who may still have fresh evidence to deliver. 

Dag Hammarskjöld, from Sweden, was the second UN Secretary-General, appointed in 1953.

He was travelling on a peace mission to the then Congo when the crash occurred on the night of the 17 to 18 September 1961.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’19″

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