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27 August 1998 Edition

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MI5 implicated in murder of UN chief

In a series of letters released last week by Desmond Tutu's Truth and Reconcilliation Commission, MI5, the CIA and South African agents have been implicated in the 1961 murder of UN general secretary, Dag Hammmarskjold.

The eight letters, marked top secret, apparently detail meetings between MI5, CIA and the South African Institute for Maritime Research (SAIMR), which is believed to be a front for a covert organistaion responsible for many apartheid era atrocities. The letters give details of a plan code-named `Operation Celeste' to place explosives aboard the plane on which Hammmarskjold and 15 others were killed when it crashed.

Theories in the British media at the time suggested that Brtish policy supported rebel leader Moise Tshomke and opposed the UN policy on the breakaway Congolese provice of Katanga.

The British Foriegn Office statement said, ``Intelligence agents (sic) do not go around bumping people off. At this time Soviet misinformation was rampant.'' The MI5 accusation was also denied by Conor Cruise O'Brien, former Dublin government minister and current member of the UK Unionist Party. He instead blamed French fascists. O'Brien was Hammmarskjold's representative in the Congo when the air crash occurred.

It was also revealed last week that despite the hype surrounding the British government's commitment to open government it has been unable to say just how many official documents are being held back, locked away, well past the 30-year deadline.

Amongst the suppressed files at the British Public Records Office is the 1972 MoD file on the mysterious death of MI5 agent provocateur and bank robber Kenneth Littlejohn. British secret service involvement in the murder has long been suspected after Littlejohn named his employers in open court, shortly before he was murdered. A War Office file; War Office: Irish Situation 1914-1922, Raid and Search Reports WO35/86, also remains behind locked doors more than 60 years after it was written.

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