MI6 accused of thwarting effort to solve 1961 death of UN chief


The wreckage of the DC6 aircraft in which the UN chief died, near Ndola in the former Northern Rhodesia in 1961. PHOTO/AP

Files on Dag Hammarskjöld plane crash are being withheld, says inquiry

MI6, the secret intelligence service, is under pressure to share its files on the mysterious death of a UN secretary general who was killed in an air crash almost 60 years ago.

Dag Hammarskjöld died with 13 others in September 1961, when his plane crashed near Ndola, in what was then Northern Rhodesia. There has been speculation that the plane was brought down deliberately. A film released this year, Cold Case Hammarskjöld, a winner at the 2019 Sundance film festival, has continued to stir interest.

Now a report from Mohamed Chande Othman, a former chief justice of Tanzania who was appointed by the UN to review any new information relating to the case, suggests that Britain is dragging its heels.

The UK ran intelligence agents across Africa in the 1960s and has been asked to share any information it has on the crash. “The UK and the United States must be almost certain to hold important undisclosed information,” claims Othman, adding that it took 15 months for Britain to respond to a request for information.

He adds: “Despite the United Kingdom having been identified as very likely to hold relevant information, and in spite of my indicating specific areas where such information may be found, no new documents or other information have been received, and responses were not given on the detailed queries that I communicated.”

Last year the UN asked 14 countries – including the UK, South Africa, the United States and Russia – to each appoint an independent official to conduct a review of their intelligence, security and defence archives.

The British review was conducted within a month. In his report, Othman notes: “I do not think it fair to expect that a month was adequate to accomplish a comprehensive review of this nature and covering the extensive grounds requested.” The report urges Britain and other countries with information to engage “further and deeper” with the UN investigation.

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