U.N. rights boss asks U.S. for facts on bin Laden killing

GENEVA Tue May 3, 2011 2:31pm EDT

A frame grab obtained from ABC News shows the interior bedroom in the mansion where Osama Bin Laden was killed. REUTERS/ABC News

A frame grab obtained from ABC News shows the interior bedroom in the mansion where Osama Bin Laden was killed.

Credit: Reuters/ABC News

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations' top human rights official called on the United States Tuesday to give the U.N. details about Osama bin Laden's killing and said that all counter-terrorism operations must respect international law.

But Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the al Qaeda leader, killed in a U.S. operation in Pakistan, had committed crimes against humanity as self-confessed mastermind of "the most appalling acts of terrorism," including the September 11, 2001 attacks on America.

It was always clear that taking bin Laden alive was likely to be difficult, she said, noting that U.S. authorities had stated that they intended to arrest him if possible.

"This was a complex operation and it would be helpful if we knew the precise facts surrounding his killing. The United Nations has consistently emphasized that all counter-terrorism acts must respect international law," Pillay said in a statement issued in response to a Reuters request.

In Washington, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder defended as lawful Tuesday the U.S. operation to go into Pakistan that resulted in the death of bin Laden and the taking of his body.

"If he was captured and brought before a court, I have no doubt he would have been charged with the most serious crimes, including the mass murder of civilians that took place on 9/11, which were planned and systematic and in my view amounted to crime against humanity," said Pillay, a former U.N. war crimes judge.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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