UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld died in a mysterious plane crash almost exactly 50 years ago. Now new evidence has been uncovered which seems to implicate the British in his death. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Hammarskjöld was en route to attempt to broker a ceasefire between UN forces and Congolese rebels on the night of 18 September 1962, when the plane carrying him crashed near Ndola, in what was then Northern Rhodesia. Almost immediately, the crash was treated as suspicious, with three successive inquiries failing to conclusively determine its cause.
Hammarskjöld had made himself unpopular in certain quarters before his death. The Swedish diplomat and all-round good guy had been busy shepherding the Congo into independence, while Belgium and the UK were keen to hang on to their control of the country’s copper industry. South Africa’s apartheid regime has at various points also been fingered as a potential suspect, with Desmond Tutu producing a letter at the TRC suggesting SA intelligence services might have been involved.
Now the Guardian has been handed new evidence to suggest that Hammarskjöld’s plane was shot down and his murder concealed by British colonial authorities in Northern Rhodesia. A Swedish aid worker called Göran Björkdahl has spent the past three years interviewing witnesses from the time who saw another plane shooting at Hammarskjöld’s. Bjorkdahl has also uncovered diplomatic telegrams from the days leading up to the crash which show exactly how angry the US and UK were about Hammarskjöld‘s support for Congolese independence.
The British Foreign Office has refused to comment. The Guardian reports that officials believe that it’s too late now: “no amount of research would conclusively prove or disprove what they see as conspiracy theories that have always surrounded Hammarskjöld’s death”.
We leave it to you to decide. DM
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