A prominent jurist examining the mystical 1961 plane crash that killed the United Nations secretary general, Dag Hammarskjold, in southern Africa has concluded that the aircraft may have been assaulted, and that 4 nations– Britain, Russia, South Africa and the United States– may be keeping info that could fix the puzzle.
The jurist, Mohamed Chande Othman, a previous chief justice of Tanzania, released his conclusions in a 95- page report published Monday on the website of the United Nations, which kept him nearly three years ago to assist sort through new proof and a variety of sinister theories that have proliferated in the decades because the crash.
Mr. Hammarskjold, a 56- year-old Swedish diplomat thought about among the most effective leaders of the United Nations, was on an objective to help settle a secessionist war in freshly independent Congo, a former Belgian colony. His chartered aircraft, a DC-6, went down after midnight on Sept. 18, 1961, moments prior to its set up landing in Ndola, a town in what was then the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia and is now Zambia.
Fifteen individuals aboard, including Mr. Hammarskjold, members of his personnel and crew, were eliminated in the crash. The sole survivor, an American gatekeeper called Harold Julien, passed away of injuries 6 days later on.
The crash is one of the most long-lasting mysteries in the history of the United Nations, where Mr. Hammarskjold has been honored as a model worldwide statesman. He is the only individual to have been posthumously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His name embellishes structures and plazas around the worldwide company’s New York head office.
Initial investigations by the colonial authorities associated the crash to pilot mistake, but suspicions of nasty play multiplied in later years. Some theories hold that colonial-era mining interests, maybe backed by Western intelligence agencies, had outlined to assassinate Mr. Hammarskjold, who was a devoted promoter of African self-reliance from colonial powers during a critical period of the Cold War.
Other intriguing littles info appear to support a theory that South African or Belgian mercenaries may have forced Mr. Hammarskjold’s plane to crash However the evidence is far from definitive.
In a 2017 interim report, Mr. Othman composed that “hostile action” from outside the aircraft might have doomed it, either through a direct attack or by triggering the pilots to fly too low.
He stated member states of the United Nations that might be harboring info about the crash were required to reveal that they had actually totally examined their records and archives.
In his final report, Mr. Othman composed that the attack hypothesis “remained plausible,” and that the problem of proof he had actually appointed to member states had “yet to be completely released.”
Last year Mr. Othman asked 14 countries to each appoint an independent official to review intelligence, security and defense archives for details associated to the disaster. He wrote in the brand-new report that his interactions with those countries and their appointees had considering that been “largely effective.”
However Mr. Othman likewise highlighted that specific nations– especially the United States, South Africa, Britain and Russia– “may yet have work to finish to ensure that thorough searches are carried out with an adequate degree of openness.”
Their cooperation, he wrote, is especially essential since they “must be nearly particular to hold essential concealed details” about the crash.
Mr. Othman singled out British and Rhodesian authorities who appeared to have attempted to guide the early questions “to conclude that the crash was the result of pilot mistake, instead of any kind of external interference.” He also said South Africa had ignored his repetitive requests for information concerning pro-apartheid mercenaries from that nation who may have been linked, a theory that got some trustworthiness in a documentary launched this year, ” Cold Case Hammarskjold.”
Officials of the four nations did not right away talk about Mr. Othman’s report, which consisted of a suggestion that the present secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres, select an independent investigator to continue the work.
In a letter posted with the report, Mr. Guterres stated that he concurred, and that “it remains our shared duty to pursue the full reality of what took place on that eventful night in 1961.”
Susan Williams, a University of London scholar whose 2011 book, ” Who Eliminated Hammarskjold?,” assisted galvanize support for more investigation, invited Mr. Othman’s report, stating it had actually assisted expose what she called “the wholly insufficient and incredibly elusive actions” of nations that had not totally worked together with him.
By contrast, she particularly commended the assistance provided by Zimbabwe. Previously the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, it was the main territory of a British-ruled federation that consisted of Northern Rhodesia, where the aircraft crashed.
The information provided by Zimbabwe in Mr. Othman’s report contained new details on Mr. Julien. They included a file in which he mentioned to his doctors that there had been a surge aboard the airplane, followed by smaller sized explosions that forced the airplane down, and that he had actually left by throwing himself through a security hatch. The info had actually been reduced by Rhodesian authorities.
” This indicates that the Rhodesian authorities attempted to turn off any public understanding of possible external disturbance,” Ms. Williams said in an e-mail. “It likewise suggests that Julien may have said more about the last minutes of the crash than is readily available as yet.”
Rick Gladstone is an editor and author on the International Desk, based in New York. He has actually operated at The Times given that 1997, starting as an editor in the Service area. @ rickgladstone