2/6/99 ----- The Scotsman LIBYA is "very close" to making a final decision on whether to hand over the two Lockerbie bombing suspects for trial, it was claimed last night. Lord Steel, the former Liberal leader, who met Libya's foreign minister, Omar Montassar, earlier this week, said an announcement would be made by the end of the month. Lord Steel visited Tripoli with a former Conservative MP, Sir Cyril Townsend. They said they were optimistic a clear-cut decision would be reached.
However, a spokesman for the families of Lockerbie victims remained sceptical of the announcement, pointing out that the pair had not spoken to the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi. Jim Swire, whose daughter, Flora, died in the bombing, said: "Mr Montassar is only a member of the Libyan government. You have to remember that in Libya what Col Gaddafi says goes. There are various strands and factions within the Libyan government and there are others who perhaps will not agree with what Mr Montassar has said."
United Nations sanctions against Libya would be suspended as soon as the suspects arrive in the Netherlands. Libya has accepted the proposal in principle, but is concerned about the treatment of the men, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah. The remaining stumbling blocks are understood to include Libya's insistence that the men do not serve their sentence in Scotland if convicted.
In a joint statement, Lord Steel and Mr Townsend, who have both travelled to Libya in the past for talks with Col Gaddafi, said: "Mr Montassar assured us that they were now 'very close' to agreement and that we could expect 'a decision this month'. We naturally hope that it will be a positive one. "We are optimistic that there may be a clear cut decision very soon leading to the lifting of sanctions, making it easier for diplomatic relations to be resumed, not least in the interests of the 5,000 British citizens working in Libya, but above all in the interests of getting at the truth of what happened and why at Lockerbie.
"We do, however, remain optimistic rather than wholly confident." During the meeting, the men said that they had relayed in detail to Mr Montassar the assurances given by the British Government about the nature of the planned legal proceedings.
TUNIS, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Two Chadian senior officials flew to Libya on Friday night, the latest in a series of African officials to defy a U.N. ban imposed on flights to and from the North African country over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. Libyan state radio said Chadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mahamet Salah Annadif and Hassan Adam Bakhit, special adviser to Chadian President Idriss Deby, were welcomed at Tripoli airport by Libyan Foreign Affairs Minister Omar Mustafa al-Montasser. In June last year an Organisation of African Unity summit called on its members to ignore the U.N. embargo for humanitarian, religious or diplomatic missions. On Thursday, Malawian President Bakili Muluzi flew out of Libya after a four-day visit during which he held talks with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The Times, UK : 2/ 4 1999 A SAUDI prince yesterday warned Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, that unless he hands over the two Lockerbie suspects soon, America is likely to press for tougher sanctions at the next United Nations review this month. Prince Bandar, the Saudi Ambassador to Washington, was holding last-ditch talks in Libya to break the deadlock over the handing over of Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamine Khalifa Fhimeh for trial in The Netherlands. America has made clear that its patience is wearing thin and that it believes Libya is stalling on the offer.
Prince Bandar has no mandate to negotiate on behalf of either Britain or America, and may attempt a little freelance diplomacy to overcome Libya's outstanding objection - the insistence that the two suspects serve their sentences in Scotland if convicted. Colonel Gaddafi denounced the UN on Tuesday, saying the Security Council had "no right to revise the sanctions" imposed on Libya. Any revision would be contrary to the UN Charter, he said. His remarks dampened hopes that he will hand over the suspects before the sanctions review.
Britain has refused to set a deadline for the extradition of the men, and says there are indications that Libya is ready to agree. Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, has pressed other Arab countries to use their influence in Tripoli to assure Libya that the suspects would not be interrogated by British intelligence if they were imprisoned in Scotland. Mr Cook yesterday met Farouk al-Sharaa, the Foreign Minister of Syria, which holds the presidency of the Arab League. Lockerbie was raised at a later lunch with Derek Fatchett, the Minister responsible for the Middle East.
2/3/99 Italy said it is high time to make efforts to obtain the lifting of the embargo implemented against Libya in 1992. Italian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Rino Serri made the statement in a joint press conference held Tuesday in the Italian capital by Libya's new ambassador, Abdulati Al Obaidi, and Italian the minister in charge of relations with parliament, Gian Guido Folloni.
The Italian official said the mediation undertaken by UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, Saudi Arabia and South Africa is presently at a stage where it would be easier to move forward than to go backward. He also expressed Italy's commitment to bringing its contribution to settle the "Lockerbie affair" and open for Libya "a new path" to enable it to "actively participate in the Euro-Mediterranean partnership."
LONDON, Feb 3 (AFP) - Secret talks on handing over the two men accused of the Lockerbie bombing are underway in Libya, amid a warning from the Americans that their patience is running out, a British newspaper reported on Wednesday. The Guardian said that the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar ibn Sultan, had travelled to Tripoli to try and secure a deal over the affair. He was in the Libyan capital last month together with Jakes Gerwel, a close aide to South African President Nelson Mandela, on a similar mission.
The Guardian cited US officials as saying that this latest bid represents the final chance for a deal before Washington seeks to tighten UN sanctions aginst Libya. However, the British government wants to carry on trying for a solution without imposing a deadline, the newspaper said.
And from AFP in Cairo: Libya has received "most" of the guarantees it demanded to allow the start of a trial of two Libyan suspects in the Lockerbie bombing, Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mussa said in an interview published Wednesday. "Libya has got most of the guarantees and I hope that the two suspects will soon be extradited" by Tripoli to the Netherlands where the trial is set to take place, Mussa told the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Hayat.
"The Lockerbie case is on its way to being solved and the Libyan, UN, US and British authorities are about to reach a comprehensive agreement," Mussa said. Mussa's remarks to Al-Hayat came as a British newspaper reported on Wednesday that secret talks involving a senior Saudi official were underway to secure the handover of the Libyan suspects. The Guardian said that the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar ibn Sultan, had travelled to Tripoli last month to try and secure a deal over the affair.
The Guardian cited US officials as saying that this latest bid represents the final chance for a deal before Washington seeks to tighten UN sanctions imposed against Libya since 1992 in connection with the Lockerbie bombing. On November 3, the UN Security Council extended the sanctions by four months. Mussa meanwhile stresssed that "time has come to put an end to this affair so that Libya can once again play its role in the Mediterranean basin."
TRIPOLI, Feb 2 (AFP) - Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi said Tuesday the UN Security Council has "no right to revise the sanctions" imposed on his country in connection with its alleged support for terrorism. "Any revision of these sanctions by the council is null and void, and is contrary to the UN Charter and international law, since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) declared it not to be competent" in the matter, Kadhafi said in a speech at a dinner given overnight in honour of Malawian President Bakili Muluzi.
Muluzi arrived in Tripoli by plane on Monday, violating the air embargo imposed under the 1992 sanctions. He was following the example of a number of other African leaders who have flown to Libya in recent months. Kadhafi praised the decision last year by the Organisation of African Unity to stop observing the embargo "in conformity with the verdict of the ICJ." The ICJ, the UN's judicial body, stated in February 1998 that it had the competence to deal with the Lockerbie affair. Kadhafi has interpreted this to mean that the Security Council does not have any rights to rule in the matter.
However, last November the council extended the sanctions against Libya for a further four months. They were imposed to force Libya to hand over two of its nationals accused of involvement in the bombing of a PanAm aircraft over Lockerbie in Scotland 10 years ago, which killed 270 people. Last August Washington and London accepted a proposal that the suspects should be tried under Scottish law at a court in the Netherlands, and the Security Council agreed to suspend the sanctions as soon as they arrived there. Tripoli has since demanded further guarantees, holding up the implementation of the agreement.
Background info: For more on the recent US/UK change of politics etc., go here
Feb 1 (Reuters) - Malawi's President Bakili Muluzi flew to Libya on Monday, the latest in a string of African leaders to defy a U.N. air ban imposed on flights to and from the North African country over the 1988 Lockerbie disaster. Libyan state television showed Muluzi arriving at Tripoli airport where he was greeted by Abu Bakr Jaber Yunes, one of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's lieutenants. He then went into talks with Gaddafi to ``discuss African issues,'' the television said.
In June last year an Organisation of African Unity summit called on its members to ignore the U.N. embargo for humanitarian, religious or diplomatic flights. Malawi's president arrived in Tripoli a few hours after a Nigerian official delegation flew out after handing Gaddafi a message from the Nigerian president on Sierra Leone.
31/01/99 BBC New research has suggested that two victims of the Lockerbie airliner bombing could have survived the six-mile fall to earth only to die of exposure later, a newspaper has reported. The pathologist's report says that the unnamed pair of Americans were the only two of the 270 victims - passengers, crew and 11 victims on the ground - who stood any chance of surviving the fireball, the Sunday Times reports.
In an article in the journal of the Medico-Legal Society, Anthony Busuttil, regius professor of forensic medicine at Edinburgh University, says that one of the victims, a man in his 40s, only suffered a broken leg, the newspaper reports. Another, a young woman, was found with a fractured leg, broken ribs and a small amount of bleeding in the brain. Both sets of injuries suggested that the pair could have had their fall from 31,000ft broken or slowed in some way. Prof Busuttil led the official team who examined the causes of death of the victims.
Publishing his findings, he writes: "If the same two people had been found after a car accident, their chances of survival would not have been bad." "The theory is that they parachuted in some way and somehow their fall was cushioned. "The chances are that exposure and blood loss may have had some say in their death. The question was: could they have survived?"
The report reveals that some of the bodies of the 259 victims on the plane showed signs that their heartbeat could have continued either after the explosion or on impact with the ground. Tests were carried out on the bodies of 233 of the victims. The findings appear to back up an earlier report contained in a book written by a helicopter squadron pilot.
David McMullon wrote that during the search for bodies he found one victim who appeared to be clutching a handful of grass. Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the crash and has led the campaign for the suspected Libyan terrorists responsible to be brought to trial, said questions had been raised over whether anyone could have survived. "We have always been told by the authorities that none of the victims could have been saved," he told the newspaper. "But you could say that they would say that, wouldn't they."
Moves are still continuing to bring the two suspects to trial under Scottish law in the Netherlands, acting as a neutral third country. But the plans, already agreed by the US, UK and The Netherlands, are currently stalled over concerns as to where the two alleged terrorists, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, would serve any sentences if convicted. President Nelson Mandela of South Africa recently sent an envoy, joined by a representative from Saudi Arabia, to Tripoli to urge Libya's President Muammar Gaddafi to permit the trial to go ahead.
New York Times excerpt 30/01/99 WASHINGTON -- A month before a U.S. deadline for Libya to hand over two suspects in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, administration officialssay they are planning to seek tougher economic sanctions against the country. President Clinton announced in December that the United States would push for tougher U.N. sanctions if Libya failed to hand over two intelligence agents for trial in the Netherlands by the end of February. But London and Washington have ruled out their imprisonment, if convicted, in a third country.
The White House is trying to determine how best to shape sanctions that would be more stringent, but not so onerous that they failed to gain passage in the Security Council. Administration officials acknowledge that international fatigue with open-ended sanctions against Libya, coupled with pressure from Saudi Arabia and others, prompted the administration to propose the compromise. Saudi Arabia has regularly pushed the United States to find a way out of the impasse over Pan Am 103, and has intensified its lobbying on the matter, officials said. If Gadhafi does agree to the trial, the sanctions would not immediately end. Under U.N. resolutions, they would be suspended, but would not end permanently until the secretary-general certified that Libya had cooperated fully in the trial, and had severed all ties to terrorism.
TUNIS, Jan 30 (Reuters) - A Nigerian aircraft carrying senior officials has flown to Libya despite a United Nations air ban on the North African country, Libyan state-run television said on Saturday. The television said the flight was in line with an Organisation of African Unity (OAU) resolution last year to allow flights to Libya for humanitarian, religious or diplomatic missions. The delegation included Nigerian Police Inspector-General Ibrahim Coomassie and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Buhari Bala, the television said.
The television showed pictures of the delegation holding talks with Libyan Foreign Affairs Minister Omar Mustafa al-Montasser. Since 1992 Libya has been subject to U.N. sanctions, including the air ban, for failing to hand over to the United States or Britain two suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 270 people died. Since last June several heads of states and officials from African countries have visited Libya in defiance of the U.N. sanctions.
London Al-Sharq al-Awsat in Arabic 29 Jan 99 p 6 / by courtesy of Libya News List.
Subslug: Report by Salah Jamil in London and agency reports: "London: We Have Given Whatever Guarantees We Can Give on Lockerbie and We Are Waiting for the Suspects To Be Handed Over"
Britain yesterday stated that it has given Libya everything that it can give with regard to the trial of the Lockerbie suspects in the Netherlands by Scottish judges and in accordance with Scottish law. A British Foreign Office spokesman told Al-Sharq al-Awsat that London "has not received any new requests for clarifications from Libya... We have given all possible clarifications and guarantees and we are waiting for the two suspects to be handed over."
In response to statements by a Libyan official that Tripoli is waiting for London's and Washington's answer with regard to "the outstanding issues concerning the conditions needed to ensure a fair trial" for the two Libyans, 'Abd-al-Basit al-Miqrahi and al-Amin Khalifah Fahimah, the spokesman added: "We have always made it clear that we are not in a negotiating situation. We have given guarantees with regard to the suspects' rights during their trial and their imprisonment if convicted, as well as the questioning of witnesses and the fairness of the trial. We have also promised to ask the Security Council to suspend the sanctions upon the arrival of the suspects in the Netherlands."
Commenting on the key contentious issue with regard to where the suspects would serve their jail sentence if convicted, the Foreign Office spokesman said that "there is no alternative to imprisonment in Scotland, and this is not at all open to negotiation." He wondered: "I do not know what the Libyans expect from us. We have not had any requests for clarifications from them for about two months, and there is nothing more that we can offer. We believe that our offer is the best possible offer and we hope that the Libyan leadership can be persuaded that this is the case."
The spokesman added: "We were optimistic after the recent visit to Libya by the Saudi Ambassador to Washington (Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin-Abd-al-'Aziz) and the South African envoy, in addition to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's visit last month, and we said that the handover might take place after Ramadan, but Ramadan has ended and we are still waiting for the suspects to be handed over."
TUNIS, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Libya said on Thursday it was not to blame for the delay in trying two suspects for the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing, arguing it was up to ``other parties'' to make the next move. ``It (Libya) is still awaiting the response of other parties on the remaining points to guarantee the appropriate circumstances for justice for the two suspects,'' the Libyan foreign ministry said in comments published by the official news agency JANA.
Britain and the US have said that economic sanctions imposed on Libya in 1992 can be suspended as soon as the suspects are handed over. But the process remains deadlocked, despite a diplomatic flurry in which U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and envoys from South Africa and Saudi Arabia have all met Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in the past eight weeks. Their aim was to provide clarifications requested by Tripoli, in addition to those obtained by a Libyan legal team from the U.N. legal counsel in October and November. Annan said last week he was still awaiting Libya's response.
``While (expressing) Libya's respect for the U.N. secretary-general's efforts to find a solution to the so-called Lockerbie issue, it (Libya) would like to recall that Libya has shown the necessary flexibility in recent years despite the unjust sanctions imposed on it,'' JANA quoted the foreign ministry as saying. ``Libya is always ready to cooperate to settle the disagreement and hopes the other parties will act with the same seriousness to close this file definitely, for ever and as soon as possible,'' it added.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Wednesday expressed frustration with Libya's delay in handing over the bombing suspects. ``We expressed our impatience on Lockerbie,'' a senior U.S. official told reporters travelling with Albright after she held talks in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Background info: For a detailed review of the current events leading to the present situation, please go to the news archive.
CAIRO, Jan 27 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Wednesday expressed impatience about recent efforts to get Libya to extradite suspects in the bombing of an airliner over Scotland in 1988. A senior U.S. official told reporters travelling with Albright after her talks in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak: ``We expressed our impatience on Lockerbie.'' Albright later went to Saudi Arabia for talks with King Fahd. The official said they urged Egypt to tell the Libyans ``to accept our proposal to get out from under the sanctions regime. They (Egypt) said they intended to try to persuade the Libyans to do this.''
Annan said last Thursday he was still awaiting Libya's response to the moves by the envoys, who delivered letters from their leaders in an attempt to persuade Gaddafi to hand over the two Libyans suspected of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people.
Cairo, 25 Jan (MENA) --'Umar al-Muntasir, Libyan Secretary of the People's Committee for External Liaison and International Cooperation, welcomed yesterday's statement by the Arab Foreign Ministers' meeting on Iraq.
In a statement before leaving Cairo for Libya, al-Muntasir said that Libya had backed the Arab League's final statement, which took into account the proposals put forward by the Arab Maghreb states. As a result of these proposals, amendments were made to the statement, he added. The Libyan official, in remarks to MENA, criticized the withdrawal of the Iraqi delegation from the meeting of the Arab Foreign Ministers in protest at the final statement. Had Iraq not walked out of the meeting, it would have seen that amendments that met its demands were introduced, he added.
Al-Muntasir emphasized that a solution to the Lockerbie problem is near, once an agreement is reached among all parties to the problem. He added that developments related to this case will be discussed during US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's visit to Cairo and her talks with the Egyptian officials. The Libyan official, however, did not reveal a plan for future activity to solve the Lockerbie problem or if he had presented to Egyptian officials new proposals to raise with Albright during her Cairo talks. President Husni Mubarak today met with al-Muntasir, who led Libya's delegation to the meetings of the Arab Foreign Ministers. Al-Muntasir met with Egyptian Foreign Minister 'Amr Musa on the sidelines of the meetings.
22/01/99 BBC Two Libyan suspects could be tried in the next few weeks. The South African mediator who visited Libya this month in an attempt to resolve the Lockerbie dispute says he is very optimistic that the Libyan Government will hand over two suspected bombers within weeks. Professor Jakes Gerwel, a close aide to President Nelson Mandela, said he returned from his latest mission to Libya with a feeling of optimism.
He said that only a few fine details now had to be worked out before Libya agreed to hand over the two men suspected of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988. The UN Security Council is due to meet next month to discuss the Lockerbie deadlock, which has already led to sanctions being imposed on Libya for its refusal to surrender the men accused of the bombing.
Libya has so far reacted cautiously to a British-American plan for the two men - Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah - to be tried in the Netherlands by a panel of Scottish judges. But the issue of where the two men should serve their sentence if convicted is believed to be the main stumbling block. In an interview for BBC Radio Scotland, Professor Gerwel said Colonel Gadaffi was still unhappy about the prospect of the two suspects, if convicted, being detained in a Scottish prison. But despite this obstacle, he said he believes their hand over was imminent.
"There is a real sense in Tripoli that they want to resolve this matter and that they want to resolve it as speedily as possible," he said. "I mean February is some kind of a benchmark date just because the Security Council is again reviewing the matter. So ideally one would want to conclude it in time for that."
Jim Swire, whose daughter was among those killed by the Lockerbie bomb, said he is also confident the suspects will soon appear in a court of law. He also said he was grateful to President Mandela for his role in the affair. "I think this is a very important step forward and people should realise that President Mandela has been involved in negotiations for years," he said. "He was writing letters to John Major about it. He's not a newcomer to the scene _ and I want to thank him."
BBC South Africa correspondent Greg Barrow said that pressure from the United Nations Security Council had also been significant. Libya has struggled under the sanctions regime imposed upon it. Professor Gerwel said there is a fear in Tripoli that unless progress is made in resolving the Lockerbie dispute once and for all, stiffer sanctions could be around the corner. Earlier this month, UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook made a public appeal to Libya to hand over the suspects, assuring them of a fair trial and that there was no "hidden agenda" to the trial proposal.
London Al-Sharq al-Awsat in Arabic 15 Jan 99 p 1 / by courtesy of Libya News List.
Subslug: Report by Kamal Qubaysi: "Saudi Arabia Facilitates Guarantees To Resolve Lockerbie Crisis; Prince Bandar Affirms To Al-Sharq al-Awsat His Optimism About Imminent Settlement"
Tripoli -- The Lockerbie crisis "will find its right solution very soon, God willing," Saudi Ambassador to Washington Prince Bandar Bin-Sultan said prior to his departure from the Libyan capital Tripoli the day before yesterday. He had paid a two-day visit to Libya during which he met twice with Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhdhafi to iron out some of the obstacles and bring views closer between the parties to the crisis, which Saudi Arabia and South Africa are working to resolve. Al-Sharq al-Awsat has learned that Saudi Arabia facilitated some guarantees to eliminate the Libyan leadership's suspicions about US and British intentions.
Prince Bandar did not wish to go into details, "because I have to convey them [the details] first to the officials in my country." However, he pointed out that the Saudi-South African initiative "is now very close to success." Prince Bandar declined to provide any further explanation about the outstanding point that has persisted for 10 years, namely the question of where the two Libyans suspected of involvement in the blowing up of the PanAm plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, whose 270 passengers were all killed in the incident, would be imprisoned. Libya is refusing to allow them to be imprisoned in Scotland, as demanded by Britain and the United States, which have turned down a Libyan proposal to imprison them in the Netherlands or Libya.
Prince Bandar repeated his earlier denial, saying that the Saudi-South African discussions [with the Libyans] did not broach the issue of where the two Libyans, 'Abd-al-Basit 'Ali Muhammad al-Miqrahi and al-Amin Khalifah Fahimah, would be imprisoned if convicted. It is worth mentioning that Prince Bandar paid a secret visit to Libya last April, followed by a second secret visit in August, then the recent third visit, which was public and by aircraft for the first time. Al-Sharq al-Awsat asked a person close to Prince Bandar who accompanied him during the two secret visits about the atmosphere in the previous meetings. He said that he felt that Prince Bandar is much more optimistic this time than he was during the two visits last year.
The person in question said that Prince Bandar might pay another visit to Libya soon, after consulting with and receiving instructions from officials in the Kingdom. However, Prince Bandar has told Al-Sharq al-Awsat that there is a possibility of resolving the crisis without [further] visits, "as we are following it up from abroad as well." Prince Bandar said that the initiative "would be a major victory for the Arabs and Col. al-Qadhdhafi if it succeeds in securing a comprehensive and fair solution acceptable to all parties."
KHARTOUM (Jan. 13) XINHUA - Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is seeking to lift air embargo on Libya, Abdullah Sulaiman Al-Awadh, secretary of the NCP's People's Department of International Relations said here Wednesday. The department will adopt in the coming days an initiative for grouping the representatives of the Arab countries on a flight from Khartoum to Tripoli, Libya.
Al-Awadh said the flight is an attempt to break the United Nations air embargo imposed on Libya since 1993 for its refusal to hand over two suspects of blowing up an American flight in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing a total of 270 people. A Sudanese delegation visited Libya and met with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi last Wednesday by air in defiance of the embargo, he said.
The mission included representatives of the Sudanese National Assembly (parliament), the People's International Friendship Council, the Farmers' Federation, and the Civil Defense as well as university professors and intellectuals. The Libyan General Association of Farmers and Raisers and the Sudanese Farmers' Federation issued a joint statement on the occasion of breaching the embargo on Libya, calling all the farmer associations in the Arab world to stand against embargo.
THE HAGUE (Reuters+BBC) - British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook made a direct appeal to Libya Wednesday to surrender the two men accused of the Lockerbie bombing and reiterated that U.N. sanctions would be suspended in return.
``I want ... to make a public appeal to the Libyan government to hand over the two suspects to enable proceedings to begin. We want to see justice done,'' Cook told reporters during a trip to The Hague, where he met officials of the U.N. war crimes court. Cook assured Libya the trial would be fair, saying Britain had ``no hidden agenda'' and no interest in convicting the innocent: ``If the two suspects are innocent they need have no fear of standing trial in this court,'' he said.
The UK foreign secretary insisted the two men would receive a full trial. "If the two suspects are innocent, they need have no fear of standing trial in this court," Mr Cook said. "I want to take the opportunity of this visit to the trial site to make a public appeal to the Libyan Government to hand over the two suspects to enable proceedings to begin. "We want to see justice done and to bring out in open court what we believe happened on that tragic day 10 years ago. It will be a fair trial under Scottish law and Scottish rules of procedure."
The British foreign secretary paid a brief visit to the windswept patch of land outside the central city of Utrecht that Britain and the U.S. have selected as the venue of a future trial. His trip to Camp Zeist, an abandoned military air base, came amid signs South Africa and Saudi Arabia had made progress in their efforts to secure the mens' surrender.
Cook said he was heartened by the diplomatic efforts but stressed South Africa and Saudi Arabia were not mediating on Britain's behalf. ``We welcome their visit in support of the U.N. Secretary General's efforts,'' Cook said. He made it clear that, as far as Britain was concerned, the next move in the long-running dispute was Libya's. Cook held out the prospect of a permanent end to U.N. sanction as a trade-off.
``As soon as the suspects land in the Netherlands we will suspend U.N. sanctions against Libya, as the first step toward permanently lifting sanctions,'' Cook said. ``If the two suspects are handed over there is every prospect the suspension would become a full lifting,'' he continued. If Libya agrees to surrender the two men for trial, the suspects will be housed in a bomb-proof underground complex beneath an American-built hospital at Camp Zeist.
Background info: More on Camp Zeist airbase and the possible Lockerbie-trial HERE
Dr Jim Swire, spokesman for the relatives of British victims of the bombing, welcome Mr Cook's trip. Dr Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the Lockerbie outrage, said: "I am encouraged because the visits demonstrate the continuing momentum." Earlier Mr Cook stressed the concessions already made to the Libyan Government on the issue. "This is an offer that the Libyans themselves sought - a free, fair trial in a country outside Scotland but under Scottish law," he told BBC Radio Scotland.
"Having sought that offer and having received that offer, they really have no reasonable grounds for not accepting it." He said he intended to make his "direct appeal" through the Arab media during his 90-minute visit today to the Camp Zeist airbase outside The Hague.
TUNIS, Jan 13 (Reuters and others) - Libya said on Wednesday that talks with South African and Saudi envoys had allowed progress to be made towards resolving the Lockerbie affair and that consultations were continuing to overcome remaining obstacles. The official Libyan news agency JANA said that Jakes Gerwel and Prince Bandar Bin Sultan who met Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Tuesday in Libya had held "important and expanded talks on the so-called Lockerbie issue."
"Important practical steps had been reached during these talks towards a solution to the issue and it had been confirmed that all parties had good intentions toward each other in order to find a solution through cooperation between these parties," the agency quoted a Libyan Foreign Affairs Ministry as saying. "Consultations and efforts are still continuing in order to overcome remaining obstacles," it added. It did not elaborate.
The two envoys on Tuesday handed Gaddafi letters from South African President Nelson Mandela and Saudi King Fahd respectively in an attempt to persuade him to extradite two Libyan suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people. The South African and Saudi envoys were on a "clarification" mission to facilitate a trial in the Netherlands by a Scottish court and under Scottish law as the United States and Britain have demanded.
09/01/99 Mr Robin Cook, Foreign Minister of UK, is due at The Hague on Wednesday to examine the proposed venue for the trial of the Libyan Lockerbie bombing suspects. Stay tuned for next weeks news.
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 8 (Reuters) - The United Nations announced on Friday that Saudi Arabian and South African envoys will spend two days in Libya next week in another attempt to persuade Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to surrender suspects in the 1988 of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said the envoys, Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, his country's ambassador to Washington, and Jakes Gerwel, South African President Nelson Mandela's chief of staff, would leave for Libya from London on Tuesday.
He said they would fly to Tripoli and then to the coastal town of Sirte, Gaddafi's desert tent domicile, and return on Wednesday ``in support of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's efforts on the Lockerbie case.'' Slovenian ambassador Danilo Turk, chairman of the Security Council's Libya sanctions committee, reported on Thursday that Bandar's application to waive a U.N. flight ban against Libya had been granted for the trip.
Their visit is considered key following talks in Pretoria between Mandela and British Prime Minister Tony Blair earlier this week. Both said they had made progress is resolving outstanding issues. Bandar and Gerwel intend to deliver letters to Gaddafi on behalf of their respective governments, they told the committee. Bandar originally wanted to go to Libya this week and has asked the Security Council committee for permission. But the United States and Britain at the time were unaware of the purpose of the visit and put a hold on the request, pending further explanations, diplomats said.
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP+others) -- Officials from South Africa and Saudi Arabia will fly to Libya to negotiate the surrender of two Libyan suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jetliner, President Nelson Mandela said Thursday. Mandela made the announcement at a joint news conference with visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Both leaders expressed confidence that an impasse over bringing the two Libyans to trial in a third country could be broken. South African President Nelson Mandela, who has maintained close relations with Colonel Gaddafi, said on Thursday: "I think we are on the way to resolve all outstanding issues."
Mr Mandela said the two men would leave "within days". He made the announcement after talks with visiting UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. "It would be very improper to discuss the details except to say we have made good progress," Mr Mandela. Now the world is waiting for the result of the visiting officials.
Blair had tried to limit his comments to generalities and grimaced when Mandela announced the pending mission. He also became uncomfortable when Mandela criticized the Dec. 16-19 U.S. and British airstrikes against Iraq after Muslim demonstrators clashed with police during Blair's visit to Cape Town earlier in the day. Still, Blair was optimistic about the chances for the mission to Libya. ``There has been progress ... on an issue that some people thought was completely impractical,'' Blair said. Britain sought a breakthrough, ``out of a deep respect for the families of the Lockerbie victims and their desire for this trial to happen,'' he said.
Mr Blair is hoping South African intervention can persuade Colonel Gaddafi to hand over the two Libyan suspects. "We are doing everything we possibly can in order to make sure there is progress," Mr Blair said. "Not just for reasons of political relations between countries, but ... so that some light can be shed on what actually took place."
Mandela said Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and the director-general of Mandela's office, Jakes Gerwel, would fly to Libya in the next few days for talks with Libyan officials. He said the U.N. Security Council had agreed to temporarily lift its air embargo of Libya to allow the two officials to fly to the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
Mandela has already played a key role in convincing the United States and Britain to support a neutral venue for the trial and has relayed the proposal to Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi, with whom Mandela maintains close ties. In Tripoli, an unidentified Libyan Foreign Ministry official said Thursday that his government was still waiting for more information. ``(The United States and Britain) have to answer especially the points on the venue of imprisonment and the lifting of the sanctions,'' the Libyan official said, according to a report by Egypt's official Middle East News Agency.
Mandela noted later that ``the charter of the United Nations provides that member nations should seek to settle their problems through peaceful means.'' ``Tony here and Bill Clinton, I have no doubt, respect that,'' Mandela said. Blair stiffened at the comment and told reporters: ``I have absolutely nothing to add to what I said this morning on that.''
Background info: Mandela's meeting with Gaddafi on the Lockerbie issue in 1997
PRETORIA, Jan 7 (Reuters and others) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair and South African President Nelson Mandela said on Thursday said they had made progress in trying to persuade Libya to surrender two suspects in the Lockerbie bombing. After talks the two leaders said a senior South African official and the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, would travel shortly to Libya to brief Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
``We have had discussions, we have made good progress and we think are on the way to resolving all the outstanding issues,'' Mandela said. He declined to add further comment. Mandela has been mediating with Gaddafi over proposals to surrender the two Libyan suspects for a trial in the Netherlands under Scottish law.
``There has been progress...we've come a long way. We'll carry on doing everything we possibly can...to bring about a solution,'' Blair told reporters. Mandela's chief of staff, Jakes Gerwel, and Bandar could travel to Libya within the next few days as part of a U.N. initiative to finally seal a deal with Gaddafi, a British official said. The Downing Street official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Britain had been lobyying behind the scenes to provide Gaddafi with another opportunity to surrender the two suspects. It is hoped that the U.N. ban on flights to Libya will be waived in the next 48 hours for the diplomatic mission.
The Libyan news agency JANA said on Thursday that Libya was awaiting clarification from the United States and Britain over certain aspects of the deal to hand over the suspects in exchange for an end to sanctions against Tripoli. ``It is up to the British Prime Minister to know that Libya had abided by all its commitments and it is it (Libya) which awaits the responses of America and Britain's governments regarding the legal guarantees for a just and fair trial of the two Libyan suspects in a third country,'' the agency quoted a Libyan foreign affairs official as saying. ``The ball is now in these two states' camp,'' he added.
The official said among clarifications sought from Washington and London was the location for carrying out any jail sentence as well as the lifting of U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed on Libya since 1992. The British official said London was determined that if the two were eventually convicted, they would serve their sentences in Scotland, while Libya wanted them imprisoned at home, or possibly in a neutral country.
Background info: Mandela's meeting with Gaddafi on the Lockerbie issue in 1997
New York, Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) -- A Security Council panel turned down a request by Saudi Arabian and South African diplomats to travel to Libya in an effort to break the stalemate over sanctions against the country, Slovenian diplomat Janez Lenarcic said.
``There was no consensus in the committee to approve the request,'' Lenarcic said. He would not identify which committee member or members opposed the request. Slovenia is a non- permanent member of the 15-nation Security Council and its ambassador, Danilo Turk, heads the council's sanctions committee.
U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair is currently on an official visit to South Africa where he's expected to ask South African President Nelson Mandela to urge Libya to accept a U.S.-British plan to try the two suspects in the Netherlands under Scottish law.
Last week U.S. President Bill Clinton said he'll seek to tighten international sanctions against Libya unless it agrees to a trial for the two in the Netherlands by February.
The request for permission to travel to Libya was made by Saudi Arabia's Washington ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, on behalf of the Saudi kingdom.
``As a follow-up to the conversations with the (UN) secretary-general regarding the Lockerbie situation, I'm kindly requesting the permission of the sanctions committee to travel directly to Tripoli and Sirte,'' Prince Bandar wrote in his letter to committee chairman Turk.
Prince Bandar said during the visit he would represent Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. Accompanying him would be South Africa's Jakes Gerwel, the director-general in the office of the president, representing Mandela. The request was made during the new year's holiday. Had it been granted, Prince Bandar and Gerwel along with a staff of 15, would have arrived in Tripoli today, according to the letter, and would have stayed for two days.
LONDON, Jan 2 1999 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an interview published on Sunday he would appeal to South African President Nelson Mandela to persuade Libya to hand over two men suspected of the Lockerbie bombing for trial in the Netherlands. Blair, who starts a four day visit to South Africa on Tuesday, said negotiations between Britain, the United States and Libya over the 1980 airline bombing had reached an impasse.
In the interview with the Sunday Business newspaper, he said Mandela had already played a ``unique and important'' role in trying to resolve the controversy and he would ask the South African leader to intervene again. ``I will explain that we have done all that we reasonably can to resolve the impasse over the trial. The UK-U.S. initiative for a trial in the Netherlands has been on the table for four months,'' said Blair.
"The UK-US initiative for a trial in the Netherlands has been on the table for four months. I do not for one moment accept that Scottish courts would not give a fair trial, but was prepared to go for a third-country trial because this is what the Libyan Government said it wanted. I will appeal to President Mandela to convince the Libyan government that a third country trial should now proceed,'' he added.
LOCKERBIE, Scotland, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Burglars took advantage of the 10th anniversary of one of the world's worst plane crashes to rob a number of houses around the Scottish town of Lockerbie, police said on Tuesday. ``Police in Lockerbie are investigating a number of housebreakings which took place on Sunday, December 20,'' Dumfries and Galloway police said in a statement. Police said articles of jewellery were amongst the items taken and asked the public to report any offers of jewellery.
UNITED NATIONS, (Dec. 22) IPS - The U.S. and British governments today called on Libya to accept without further delay a plan to try two men suspected of involvement in the bombing 10 years ago of Pan American flight 103. The two governments commemorated the tenth anniversary of the explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland -- in which 270 people died -- by threatening to impose new sanctions on Tripoli if it does not agree to hand over the suspects by February.
"In February, the U.N. Security Council will hold its regularly scheduled review of Libya sanctions," noted U.S. Ambassador Peter Burleigh. "If by that time, the government of Libya has not handed over the suspects for trial before a Scottish court in the Netherlands, we will seek additional measures to compel compliance." "We have made it clear that our patience is not unlimited," added British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock.
"If acquitted, the two accused would be free to return to Libya; if found guilty, they would be sent to prison in Scotland," the British government said in a statement released today. "This is logical and reasonable." Libya, however, remained wary of allowing the suspects to be imprisoned outside its borders. Despite the effort that officials like U.N. legal chief Hans Corell have made in clarifying the terms of the U.S.-British proposal, that demand could still prove to be the deal-breaker.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who recently returned from a visit to Libya in which he met its ruler, Col. Muammar Qaddafi, cautioned that "it is regrettable that, ten years after the event, we have not been able to get to the truth." Yet the U.N. chief appeared optimistic about new developments like the actions of the People's Congress. "I had a good discussion with the Libyan leadership," Annan said last week. "They have been given all the assurances that are necessary... My sense when I left Libya was that we were moving forward." "I had hoped that (the decision) would come before this date -- the anniversary -- but I have not lost hope," Annan said today.
Nevertheless, the 15-nation U.N. Security Council was divided about what to do if there continued to be no progress on a trial by the time that body reviews Libyan sanctions in February. Although the United States and Britain wanted additional sanctions, Russia, France and China, as well as most African and Arab nations, favored an end to the penalties already in place.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said in a Dutch television interview broadcast Monday that Libya wanted an international court to try the two men accused of the bombing.``An international court is the solution, with judges from America, Libya, England and other countries,'' Gaddafi said.
Despite that interview with colonel Gadhafi on the eve of the 10 year anniversary, Libya does not want to delay the trial of the two Lockerbie bombing suspects but only wants to ensure the "honesty" of the trial court, the Libyan foreign minister said Tuesday. Libya is also not worried about U.S. threats of more sanctions as a tool to get custody of the two Libyan suspects, Foreign Minister Omar al-Muntasser told reporters after meeting with Egypt's Foreign Minister Amr Moussa. Al-Muntasser arrived Monday in Cairo.
"We are sure of their innocence. Our sons have not done it, and there is no proof of that," al-Muntasser said. "There is no procrastination on our part, and the only thing is that we want to be sure of the honesty of the court and the guarantees," al-Muntasser said, without elaborating. President Clinton, speaking at a memorial service Monday on the bombing's 10th anniversary, warned that the United States would seek even stronger measures against Libya if the suspects were not turned over. Imposing more sanctions would be the U.N. Security Council's job. "I am sure there will be no more sanctions," Al-Muntasser said.
``Libya does not submit to any warnings from America and we are working for the benefit of our citizens,'' Libyan Foreign Affairs Minister Omar Mustafa al-Montasser told reporters after talks with President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.``Libya wants to implement the 1992 decision and to see a fair trial. There are some contradicting legal points...and we are still looking for a way out of all these points.'' He said after holding further talks at the Cairo-based Arab League: ``A solution is close, based on the Libyan view that refers to the necessity of having a fair and neutral trial for the suspected Libyans.''
22/12/1998 CAMPAIGNERS seeking to establish the definitive version of events leading up to the Lockerbie disaster yesterday predicted that the two Libyans accused of the bombing would be handed over within weeks to allow a trial to begin in the Netherland late in the spring. Speaking in London before last night's memorial service, Dr Jim Swire, the leader of the British families whose relatives died, claimed that there were indications that the Libyans could be released soon.
The impression he had gained from his contacts with the Libyans was that a handover of the two men - Abdel Baset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi and al-Amin Khalifa Fhimahare - would occur at the end of Ramadan. Dr Swire refused to accept that there was "any linkage" between the bombing of Iraq and the Pan Am jet disaster, although Linlithgow MP Tam Dalyell believes Operation Desert Fox could jeopardise the trial.
However, Dr Swire said: "Of course, we have concerns. But I would like to contrast any reference to that with the situation we have here, which is nothing less than an attempt to resolve an appalling dispute by legitimate means using a proper criminal court to resolve the question of guilt or innocence. Dr Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the bombing, pledged to continue the campaign for a trial for the two Libyans. He repeated his calls for an alternative to a jury trial for high profile cases such as the Lockerbie disaster.
He said: "To have drawn attention to the problems of jury trial in a modern community like Scotland with high levels of media penetration is justified. It will only get worse as technology develops. A solution other than jury trial urgently needs to be found for high profile cases." The bereaved families are determined that a trial should be held as much as to find out the truth surrounding the disaster as to establish the guilt of the accused.
Dr Swire's demands to find out the whole truth were echoed by Maria Larrochoeachea whose sister was a flight attendant on the doomed jet. She repeated claims of a cover up and suggestions that some important people were alerted to the dangers on the flight while the general public were not.
21/12/1998 All over the world, byt mainly in Scotland and in the UK, relatives and friends of the victims of Pan Am flight 103 have gathered to commemorate their loved ones.
For more on todays commemorations, press HERE
BONN, Dec 20 (Reuters) - A former Iranian intelligence official has said the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie was ordered and masterminded by Iran and not Libya, a prosecutor told German television on Sunday.
Frankfurt prosecutor Job Tillmann said he had questioned the former top official known as "source C" during his investigations into whether the bomb was brought to London via Frankfurt airport. "According to source C, those who carried out the attack were Libyans, but the ones who ordered and masterminded it were the mullahs (priests) in Iran," Tillmann said in a documentary, broadcast by Pro7 private channel. "It was supposed to have been an act of revenge for the shooting down of a Persian plane over the Straits of Hormuz," he said.
International investigators have accused Libya of being behind the attack. Tripoli has denied involvement.
TUNIS, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Chad's President Idriss Deby flew to Libya on Monday despite a United Nations ban on air travel to the North African country over the Lockerbie affair, Libyan state radio said. The radio said Deby would meet Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to discuss African affairs.
Deby, accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Mahamat Saleh Annadie, was welcomed at Tripoli airport by Col. Mustafa Kharrubi, it said. The flight-- Deby's third to Libya this year-- came on the 10th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing.
In June, the Organisation of African Unity decided to ignore sanctions on Libya as of September 1 and authorise flights to Tripoli for humanitarian, religious or diplomatic missions. Chad and Libya are members of a regional economic and political grouping of Saharan and Sahelian states chaired by Gaddafi.
18/12/1998 THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- The World Court on Friday gave the United States and Britain an extra three months to argue against Libya's demand to try two Lockerbie bombing suspects in Tripoli. Libya appealed to the World Court in March 1992, claiming an international civil aviation treaty gives it the right to try the two Libyans, accused in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The blast killed 270 people.
The court said it was granting the extra time in light of recent diplomatic efforts to have the suspects extradited to the Netherlands to stand trial under Scottish law in a specially convened court. Libya is believed to be close to agreeing to hand over the suspects for trial in the Netherlands.
The proposed Netherlands proceedings and the World Court case are not directly linked, but if Libya hands over the suspects for a Scottish trial, the World Court case becomes moot and would likely be dropped. The United States and Britain had been due to file their submissions to the World Court by Dec. 30, but now have until March 31. After filing their written cases, both sides then are called to appear at The Hague-based court to present their arguments orally.
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 19 (AFP) - The United States and Britain have vowed to press for tighter UN sanctions unless two Libyan suspects are handed over for trial by Monday, the 10th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing. But the two countries are expected to face an uphill battle in the 15-member UN Security Council for such a move, at a time when an existing air embargo has been regularly flouted by the Organisation of African Unitysince September.
The chairman of the UN sanctions committee, Danilo Turk of Slovenia, told AFP that as of Friday there had been no request for permission to fly the suspects out of Libya. He said that in the light of the current US and British bombing of Iraq, he hoped "the course won't be reversed" under which Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi would allow the two suspects to be surrendered to the Netherlands.
Since September 1, the date set by the OAU at a June summit for African countries to ignore the flight ban, the Security Council has had to react to a violation of the flight ban by a total 11 African countries. OAU chairman Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso has also flown to Tripoli without seeking UN approval beforehand. Britain and the United States are perplexed by the move, at a time when they believed that their proposals for the trial had brought prospects for an end to the six-year standoff. "There is growing concern about the number of violations," a British diplomat noted.
However the council has played down the issue, apparently in order to avoid antagonizing a regional organisation, and in the hope that there is still a chance that the suspects will be delivered. Although the 10th anniversary falls next Monday, US and British diplomats insist that is not a deadline for their surrender. But "our patience is not unlimited", a US diplomat said Friday.
However George Williams, whose son Geordie was killed in the bombing, said that if they were not handed over by Monday, more than 20 US senators are asking Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for "a complete oil blockade" on Tripoli. Williams is president of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103.
Albright has not committed herself to seek specific UN sanctions however, and diplomats here said that a move is not expected soon.
16-DEC-98 WASHINGTON (AP) -- While Libya ponders the deportation of two suspects in the bombing of Pan Am 103, President Clinton is inviting relatives of the tragic flight's victims for a 10th anniversary commemoration next week.
"December 21st is certainly a day of commemoration, a day of remembrance and a day of renewed mourning for those who were killed and of solidarity with their surviving family members," State Department spokesman James Foley said. The family members will gather at Arlington Cemetery.
A message from Clinton will be read out at the service in Lockerbie by Cathy Hurst, principal officer of the United States consulate general in Edinburgh.
Look for schedule information on the Arlington event HERE
In Washington, 22 senators wrote to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recommending that Libya's "intransigence be met with tougher U.N. sanctions," and called for an international embargo on the export of Libyan oil.
Existing U.N. sanctions against Libya, in place for several years, will be lifted if Libya delivers the two suspects to U.N. custody. It has been estimated by diplomats that there would be no room for tougher sanctions against Libya in the UN. More and more states, mainly African, are continously breaking the embargo. The Organization of African unity decided to allow breaking of the UN flight embargo earlier this year. Also US secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, has recently denied her country would call for tougher sanctions against Libya.
Read the letter to secretary Albright from the senators
New York, Dec. 15 (Bloomberg and other sources) -- The government of Libya can be sued for wrongful death by the families of passengers who died in the bombing of Pan Am Fight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, a U.S. appeals court ruled. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said U.S. courts have jurisdiction to try Libya in a civil lawsuit over the families' charge that Libya sponsored a terrorist attack against Americans and Britons aboard the U.S. airline.
In 1996, relatives of some victims sued Libya and two Libyan suspects under a new 1996 U.S. antiterrorism act against foreign states that the U.S. brands sponsors of terrorism. The act holds those countries liable for monetary damages in wrongful-death and personal injury lawsuits. Libya had argued unsuccessfully to a federal trial judge that it was immune from the lawsuits. In a unanimous 36-page opinion, the New York-based 2nd Circuit court today upheld the judge's decision.
The case was a second attempt by the families to sue Libya. The trial judge, Thomas Platt in Long Island, New York, had thrown out a 1994 suit against Libya on the immunity issue. The families re-filed their suit after passage of the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.
The Court’s decision discussed the constitutionality of a 1996 amendment to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act that stripped certain terrorist states of civil immunity before U.S. courts. An earlier lawsuit filed by Bruce Smith, who lost his wife in the bombing, was filed in 1993 and dismissed in 1995 based on Libya’s sovereign immunity. The legislative amendment, a product of years of effort, revived all clams against Libya.
The families are ecstatic over the decision, particularly arriving the week of the tenth anniversary, and are eager to press forward with their claims against the government of Libya, said Mark S. Zaid, a Washington, D.C. attorney, who along with the law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and attorneys Allan Gerson and Frank Duggan, have represented family members for over five years and were the primary draftsmen of the 1996 legislative amendment. The decision should be hailed as a significant victory of U.S. commitment to the pursuit of international justice and is a welcome achievement as discussions continue on the possibility of a criminal trial in the Hague, Zaid added.
For more on the November
1995-decision and the 1998-outcome, read the waiver Smith vs. Libya
....and THIS DOC for the full court decicion from the 15th December 1998.
For more on Bruce Smith and his mission, read how he funded an anti-terrorism reward.
Dec 15 (Reuters) - Libya's top legislative body said on Tuesday it was satisfied with plans for a trial in a neutral country of two Libyan suspects in the 1988 bombing of a U.S. airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Libyan television said the General People's Congress had also called on the three parties, Libya, Britain and the United States, to ``remove any obstacle'' preventing the trial going ahead as soon as possible.