UN reviewing evidence that US, UK and SA operatives assassinated UN chief Dag Hammarskjold

Explosive information potentially implicating intelligence operatives from Britain, the US and the former apartheid government in the killing of former UN secretary-general Dag Hammarskjöld is under intense scrutiny by a high-level panel established by the UN.

It is probing the circumstances under which Hammarskjöld and other UN officials died.

Among the documents being assessed for veracity and clues to possible perpetrators is information obtained by investigators of the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It includes correspondence between intelligence operatives.

The former Swedish diplomat and UN boss and several other UN officials died in September 1961 after the aircraft in which they were travelling crashed near Ndola, Zambia.

It is understood that Hammarskjöld had upset several powerful mining and political interests after investigating reported insurgency against the newly independent state of Congo.

To date no conclusive evidence has been produced for which any government, paramilitary or intelligence entity or any individual could be held accountable.

An expert panel chaired by Tanzanian chief justice Mohamed Chande Othman includes Danish ballistics expert Henrik Ejrup Larsen and Australian aviation specialist Kerryn Macaulay.

The panel is assessing new information and reviewing all previously obtained documents into the Hammarskjöld death.

The UN has urged all member countries to place all information relevant to the killing at the disposal of the panel.

The panel was established by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon following the adoption of General Assembly resolution 69/246.

It called for a full-scale probe "into the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him".

It is understood that former TRC chief investigator Dumisa Ntsebeza has been approached by the panel to assist in its work as it "is assessing the probative value of information about an alleged plot by the South African Institute of Maritime Research to kill Hammarskjöld by sabotaging the aircraft in which he travelled".

TRC investigations into the institute revealed that it had functioned as a front company, serving then-apartheid and Western intelligence agencies.

Ntsebeza and other top TRC officials acknowledged and publicly released some of the documentation in its possession in August 1998, as the commission was winding up its work and preparing the final report.

He stated at the time that the information had to be "cautiously assessed", while TRC chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu said the matter had been referred to then-justice minister Dullah Omar.

The documents include correspondence about a plot to detonate a bomb on Hammarskjöld's plane.

Contacted for comment, Ntsebeza said this week that the Hammarskjöld killing must be finalised "as a matter of urgency." - Weekend Argus