Sharon Leaves Door Open for Re-appearance Before Inquiry Panel

Defense Minister Ariel Sharon has notified the commission investigating the west Beirut refugee camps massacre that he will not re-appear before it to give further testimony and examine evidence and witnesses. But he left the door open for a possible reappearance at a later date.

Sharon was one of nine top officials, including Premier Menachem Begin, who were notified by the commission last month that they may be harmed by conclusions the three-member panel might reach as a result of their original testimony. They were invited to re-appear in person or by proxy in 15 days, which is the right of all witnesses under the law.

The deadline expired a week ago but several of the witnesses who intend to appear again, and Sharon who was out of the country, requested and received a one-week extension which ended today.

Sharon sent a letter to the commission yesterday stating that while he would not appear, he intended to present the panel with further written evidence. He also reserved the right to interrogate witnesses and appear himself, if necessary, at a future time.

OTHERS TO PRESENT FRESH EVIDENCE

Chief at Staff Gen. Rafael Eitan and three other officials who received warnings of possible harm, notified the commission yesterday that they would present fresh evidence on their behalves. Eitan is expected to appear in open session in contrast to his original testimony which was given behind closed doors.

The others who have agreed to re-appear before the commission are Gen. Yehoshua Saguy, chief of army intelligence; the head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, whose identity is an official secret; and Avi Dudai, a civilian aide to Sharon.

Begin declined to re-appear before the commission but sent it a letter last week re-affirming his original testimony given on November 8. Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who is presently abroad, has said he would submit a memorandum to the commission. Gen. Amos Yaron, who was in command of Israeli troops in Beirut when the massacres occurred last September 16-18, also promised to submit a memorandum. His superior officer, Gen. Amir Drori, commander of the northern command, indicated he would re-appear before the panel.

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