LONDON: Britain and the US have been urged to respond to claims that they possess secret information on the mysterious death of a former UN secretary general in Africa more than 50 years ago, the media reported on Sunday.
Last month a UN report on the death of Dag Hammarskjold in a plane crash in 1961 found that there was a "significant amount of evidence" that the Albertina DC6 in which the Swedish diplomat was flying had been brought down in a forest near the city of Ndola in Zambia, by another aircraft, reports the Guardian.
The report took into account previously undisclosed information provided by the US, UK, Belgian, Canadian and German governments and noted that the American and British governments were in possession of intercepted radio traffic in the area at the time.
David Edward Lea, chairman of the trustees who established the Hammarskjold Commission, which persuaded the UN to reinvestigate the death, has written to UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, saying the two governments must now state publicly whether or not they are in possession of the intercepts.
In his letter to the two senior politicians, Lea said it was "unthinkable that there are no transcripts (of the intercepted messages) in the US archives and perhaps also in the UK archives.
"I suspect that there is so far undisclosed and highly pertinent information in the transcripts. When the US authorities replied to the Hammarskjold Commission's very precise request for transcripts, they said that they had ‘documents responsive to your request' but claimed that they were secret."
At the time of his death, Hammarskjold was attempting to unite Congo, the Guardian reported.
A former Belgian pilot known only as Beukels has claimed that he accidentally shot down the Albertina in an attempt to divert it from Ndola to another airport.
Beukels said he had shone a bright light down from his Fouga jet on to the DC6 while his radio operator called on the plane to divert.
After failing to receive a reply, Beukels has said that he fired several warning shots, at least one of which clipped the Albertina's wing, causing it to crash.
It was claimed that the US and possibly UK intelligence stations in Cyprus were monitoring radio traffic in the area at the time.