New Information Has Emerged on the Mysterious Plane Crash That Killed the Head of the U.N. in 1961

In this Sept. 19, 1961, file photo, searchers walk through the scattered wreckage of a DC6B plane in a forest near Ndola, Zambia. The U.N. legal chief says new information has been received that could shed light on the mysterious plane crash that killed U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold on a peace mission to newly independent Congo. AP

Dag Hammarskjold was widely seen as the most effective Secretary-General the U.N. ever had

A 1959 file photo of Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations. - AP—AP
A 1959 file photo of Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations. AP—AP

In October 2017, Othman said in a report, “It is plausible that an external attack or threat may have been a cause of the crash.”

Serpa Soares noted that Othman asked nine countries — Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States — to appoint “an independent and high-ranking official to conduct a dedicated internal review of their intelligence, security and defense archives to identify information that may be of relevance to the Dag Hammarskjold investigation.”

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He said seven countries took action following the request 11 months ago and new information was received from some officials as well as from other sources. There was no response from South Africa and the United Kingdom, he said.

Read more: U.N. to Reopen Probe Into 1961 Plane Crash That Killed Former Chief

In recent months, Serpa Soares said, Othman asked the African nations of Angola, Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe to appoint senior officials for similar reviews and has already received notification of appointments by Congo and Zimbabwe.

Serpa Soares stressed that “the active participation of member states remains of the highest importance in our shared search for the truth in this matter.”

Sweden’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Irina Schoulgin, thanked countries that have appointed national investigators, stressing their importance “to drive the investigation forward.” She strongly urged countries that haven’t appointed an investigator “to do so without further delay.”

“We owe it to the families of those who perished 57 years ago and to this organization itself” to review all records and archives, including those that remain classified, Schoulgin said.

Correction, Dec. 5

The original version of this story mischaracterized Portugal as an African nation. It is in Europe, not Africa.


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