Lockerbie Bombing Trial - judgment day
THE VERDICT
Start: 30/01/2001 *** Updated: February 8, 2001
This page will keep you informed about the judgment in the Lockerbie bombing trial: featuring news update AROUND THE HOUR, interviews, reactions, pictures and much more.
Latest additions at end of page. Update end at february 8, 2001

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picture by Joe MifsudLockerbie bombing trial ends with surprise aquittal for Fhima - Megrahi guilty  !!

31/01/01 at 1100 hours CET
The Lockerbie bombing trial is over. Today the three judges in the special Scottish Court in Camp Zeist in the Netherlands aquitted one the two Libyan defendants, Lameen Fhima, but Abdelbasset Megrahi was pronounced guilty by the 3 judges. The verdict was unanimous.

"You are now discharged and free to go.", jugde Sutherland told Fhima in the courtroom. In the case of Al Megrahi, Lord Sutherland added that the guilty verdict was subject amending the charge. The charge was then amended by the clerk to delete a reference relating to the delivery of the suitcase containing the bomb to Malta.But the judges' verdict remains that he was responsible for planting the bomb.

The court then adjourned until 14:00 hours.
 

  • Full trial transcript from Ian Ferguson´s website at www.thelockerbietrial.com

  • Megrahi´s sentence passed
    (LTBU) The Court returned at 14:00 local time. Lord Sutherland stated that as Al Megrahi had been convicted of murder that a mandatory life sentence had to be imposed. He said that a minimum of 20 years would have to be served before he could be considered for parole. This 20 year peiod reflected the fact that the accused would be serving his sentence in a country he regarded as foreign and also considered the age he would be when he was liable for release. He indicated that following the commission of such a horrendous offence a longer minimum period would have otherwise been set.

    Bill Taylor did not address the court this afternoon. This morning he did say that as his client maintained his innocence that he would not be making a plea in mitigation in respect of sentence. This indicates that an appeal may be lodged, however, that will become apparent in the next fortnight, which is the time period allowed for a notice of intention to appeal to be lodged. Appeal can not be against sentence but only against conviction. (LTBU end)

    Drawing of today´s verdictAl-Megrahi's lawyer William Taylor told the court that his client "maintains his innocence," an indication he will appeal the conviction ( speaking to Libyan TV).  Libyan Ambassador Hamed al-Hedderi entered the high security courtroom an hour before the judges were due to take the bench. "He maintains his innocence, so there is nothing I can say by way of mitigation", said Taylor.

    Chief prosecutor Colin Boyd reminded the court of the forgotten victims of the bombing. "Four hundred parents lost a child, 46 parents lost their only child, 65 women were widowed, 11 men lost their wives, 140 people lost a parent, seven lost both parents," he said. "They are also victims of the Lockerbie bombing."
     

  • The verdict: pictures

  • See all the pictures from today´s events in Camp Zeist and elsewhere
     
  • Transcripts from CNN, all day coverage

  • Read all the live-transcripts from CNN of today´s events in Camp Zeist

    Scottich Court Services:
    The Scottish Court Service are putting the entire text of the verdict online at their website:

  • www.scotcourts.gov.co.uk/html/lockerbie.htm

  • or download directly from below
  • THE VERDICT, January 31, 2001(pdf-format)



  • Opinion polls, odds and bets:
  • Sky TV vote: Has justice been done in the Lockerbie-trial ?
  • Lockerbie Trial Discussion Room - your opinion !
  • BBC: opinion of the people - have your say
  • BBC opinion discussion: should sanctions be lifted ?

  • Dr. Jim Swire with pic of FloraReactions: UK relatives
    After the verdict, a hush descended on the court, and there were gasps from some of the relatives as Fhimah was declared not guilty.

    The spokesman of an UK-relatives´organization, Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the bombing, collapsed in court and was taken away by paramedics. The 64-year-old, from Bromsgrove was helped out by the Reverend John Mosey and other relatives who were in court to hear the verdicts. Sources in the court said an ambulance had taken the Briton to hospital but no further details were immediately available. Swire turned deathly pale minutes after three judges found Megrahi guilty. He later recovered and returned to court.
     

  • Q + A-session with Dr,. Swire on BBC NEWS TV after verdict (February 2, 2001)

  • David Ben Aryeah, who had accompained Dr Swire to the court, said: "We believe he fainted, he's been seen by the court doctor, there is a court doctor on site all the time and there is an ambulance available "It may be that they've taken him to hospital for a check-up but we believe it was a faint. "He slumped forward and as he was carried out of the court he was talking, he was conscious. "There are other relatives with him and obviously we are concerned but we need to wait and see." Mr Ben Aryeah said the long campaign for justice had clearly taken its toll on Dr Swire.

    Jane Swire said she had spoken to her husband and he was not seriously ill. Mrs Swire said: "I have spoken to him and he's okay. I think he got to court without eating anything properly and his blood sugar levels must have been too low. Coupled with the emotion of it all, it's taken its toll." Mrs Swire said they had accepted the verdict and she hoped the families could draw a line under the tragic event.

    She added: "I am pleased it has come to a conclusion. I am sure there will be an appeal but we will just have to wait and see. "I am sure Jim will want to look at other things which have not been talked about or covered by the trial, such as the failure of airport security. We knew that the trial was not going to cover these sort of things."

    Reverend John Mosey, 60, from Worcestershire, is among a group of bereaved relatives who have demanded an independent public inquiry into the failings of the intelligence services and the aviation industry in allowing the bombing to occur. As he left court he said: "As a large slice of our efforts to get at the truth of why our children and parents and husbands and wives were killed, this decision today takes us back to where we were 12 years ago. "Some of us came here, not looking for an innocent or a guilty verdict, but looking for honesty and truth and we are in the hands of judges who made these decisions and we accept that. "What this trial has not done is answer the huge questions that we were asking 12 years ago to which we have still not had satisfactory answers.

    "This trial has only served to add to that list of questions. "It is a narrowly focussed affair on the guilt or innocence of two people and we knew from the beginning that it would not answer those questions." Rev Mosey said: "It is not our fault that we are 12 years on without the serious questions of who knew what, what was going on, why were the public not protected or warned by the western governments and their agencies who should protect us. We intend to continue and to seek answers to those very, very important questions."

    Barry and Jean Berkley, from Northumberland, who lost their 29-year-old son Alistair, said they were unsatisfied with the verdict "It doesn't feel like the end," said Mrs Berkley. "We have always said that we wanted a public inquiry and we have been told we can't have that while there is a trial. "We are still asking for that inquiry. It's still not entirely clear to us whether it was just Libya behind the bomb or whether there is more to it than that." Mr Berkley said he was very happy with the way the trial had been run, describing it as "meticulous". Commenting on the diplomatic and financial implications of the trial, Mrs Berkley said: "There was a huge pressure to get the sanctions lifted and there's been an enormous rush of people to develop trade with Libya since then. "It's going to be enormously difficult to get those sanctions back. I feel the business community will be very reluctant."

    Reactions: US relatives
    Daniel Cohen, whose 20-year-old daughter died in the bombing, said from his New Jersey home, "I'm happier than I thought I would be"."Both would have been better, but the important thing is that the Libyan  government has been indicted in this thing." He also said: "I'm obviously relieved.  All of the confident predictions that both would be found not guilty have proved false.  The conviction of the main defendant keeps the finer pointed firmly at the Libyan regime.I could say more but the house is full of a TV crew and I am being called."

    His wife, Susan Cohen, said the outcome an "enormous relief." She told CNN: "There's no way that Libya can now say they weren't involved. That bloody murderer Gadhafi, has destroyed my life."

  • Extensive coverage of US relatives-reaction (AP)
  • ...more quotes from reacting relatives (AP)

  • American Bert Ammerman said the families of the victims “got some justice today.”  He praised the Scottish justice system as “excellent” but said he held Gadhafi personally responsisble and he called on the world to take a stand against “state-sponsored terrorism.” "I hope that Mr Bush will ... announce that Libya will remain as a rogue nation. "Sanctions should never go away. This is state-sponsored terrorism." "Our loved ones did not die in vain, but true justice will not be served because the person that should be brought to justice is the leader of Libya."

    There was "a lot of tension, extreme silence," said Bert Ammerman, of River Vale, N.J., whose brother Tom died in the bombing. "The sound didn't go on and that was frustrating and agonizing." Finally, word of the verdict came by telephone and was announced to the room.  "There was a pause," Ammerman said. "There were cheers. There was some crying.  … There was a feeling [that] we got one."

  • Listen to Bert Ammerman, speaking to CNN (wav-file)

  •  
  • Bob Monetti, head of VOPAF 103 Inc, talsk to CNN (wav-file)

  •  
  • BBC interview with Peter Loewenstein (chat transcript, 01/02/01)

  • "They have pinpointed the jokers in the pack. Now we want the kings," said Betty Thomas after a special Scottish court convicted Abdel Basset al-Megrahi of planting the suitcase bomb that blew the jumbo jet to bits in the air in December 1988.The Welshwoman lost her daughter and grand-daughter in the attack.

    "This was not one lone man deciding single-handedly to avenge his government," said Helen Engelhardt Hawkins, an American whose husband died in the blast.
    Picture left: American Helen Engelhardt Hawkins clasps her hands together as she discusses the guilty verdict

    Rosemary Wolf, whose step-daughter Miriam, 20, died in the bombing, said she was "happy and relieved" at the guilty verdict. But she added: "We have the foot soldier, but we do not have Gaddafi and the other agents that worked with Al Megrahi to do this. "This is a beginning and it is a recognition that we will not stand for terrorism, but this goes directly to Gaddafi."

    "Well, I can say that I'm pleased a verdict has been reached. But satisfied? No," said Beulah McKee, 84, of Trafford, Pa., whose son, Army Maj. Dennis McKee, 40, was killed.  "I guess we have to be happy we got half the loaf instead of the whole thing," she said.

    "You get convicted of murdering 270 people and you have the possibility of parole -- that just doesn't seem right to me," said Paul Halsch, of Perinton, N.Y., whose wife, Lorraine, 31, died in the bombing.

    "My stomach was in a knot and after the verdict came in there was tremendous relief," said Matt Coyle of Wallingford, Ct., who lost his 20-year-old daughter, Tricia.

    "For 12 years, we've been doing things honoring Mark," said Barbara Zwynenberg of West Nyack, N.Y., referring to her son, a 29-year-old investment banker who was one of 270 people killed in the explosion. "Today will definitely be one of the most satisfying days I've had in many, many years," added Mark's brother, Paul.

    In Hutchinson, Kan., Lloyd and Norma Ludlow got up early to hear the news. Their son, Army Sgt. David Ludlow, 41, was aboard the flight because his sister had died the day before and he was rushing home for the funeral. "I really don't think we have been repaid in any way," said Lloyd Ludlow. The sentence "doesn't satisfy me at all -- doesn't satisfy either one of us, as far as that goes."

    Pat Brunner of Hamburg, N.Y., lost 20-year-old daughter Colleen in the bombing. After a night of fractured sleep, she arose at 4 a.m. to turn on the television for word of the verdicts. After they came, she felt no better.  "There is no closure. There never will be closure. I really dislike that word," she said. "There's some justice but no closure. Nothing will bring back 270 people and my beautiful daughter."

    Paul Hudson, who lost his 16-year-old daughter Melina, watched the verdict on closed-circuit television in Washington, D.C.  "Near joy," said Hudson. "This is something we've waited for for a long time."

    Joanne and Joseph Hartunian of Niskayuna, near Albany, lost their daughter Lynne in the bombing. Joanne Hartunian watched the verdict at the Javits Federal Building in New York City after a sleepless night.  "Our work is not done," she said. "This one individual did not plan and finance the bombing of a 747. It was state sponsored. Now that an agent of the Libyan government is guilty, I'm anxious to see the reaction from our government. Are they going to lift the sanctions?  "It isn't that we don't want to let our children go," she said.  "They're gone. This doesn't change anything but I must know why my daughter died. We feel we have to get to the bottom of this."

    Reactions: citizens of Lockerbie
    "We in Lockerbie are quite happy at the verdict. As far as I am concerned justice has been done," said Maxwell Kerr, an eyewitness who had watched burning debris rain down on the town.

    Ian Campbell, 70, who returned from where he is now living in Germany to see the live television coverage of the verdict, said he was surprised by the result. "It is a surprise that one is guilty and one is not guilty. You don't feel that the book is closed yet. However, it was so long ago that many people are wanting to get on with life. It really traumatised the whole area."

    Moira Shearer, 65, from Lockerbie, helped in the town's clean up operation. After hearing the verdict she said: "We have just got to go with what the judges have said. "I feel in a way that we will never get the whole truth about what happened."

    Retired police superintendent John Carpenter, who was on duty in Lockerbie on the night of the tragedy, said he was "absolutely delighted" on hearing the verdict. Mr Carpenter, 56, from Lockerbie, said: "I appreciate that only one man was found guilty but this vindicates all the work and effort that went into the inquiry.  "I think from the outset there was a prima facie case and this has been vindicated."

    Sir John Orr, who as a detective superintendent for Strathclyde Police led the initial inquiry into the bombing. "I am delighted at the positive outcome from the judicial process in this case and it is reflective of the sheer determination, tenacity of purpose and selfless commitment by many people over the last 12 years."

     Father Patrick Keegans, the Catholic priest in Lockerbie at the time of the bombing.  "Many of the families are going to see this as a launching pad for more action to find the truth."
     

  • Listen to CNN reporting live from Lockerbie, Scotland (wav-file)

  • The sad family of Abdelbaset al MegrahiReactions: Libyan relatives
    Megrahi's older brother, Mohammed Ali, told the the London-based Arab newspaper, Al Hayat, outside the courtroom that the verdict was "unbelieveable" and "unacceptable." Pictures of al-Megrahi's sobbing wife, Aisha, and four children, gathered at their home in Tripoli, were broadcast the Libyan television channel. The pictures of the grieving family is seen by some news media and by some American relatives as mainly propaganda - read more here !

    The trial has had grave consequences for their family, Mohamed Al-Megrahi said. Their children have been harassed at school, are failing exams, and the families have lost friends blaming Abdel-Basset for the sanctions Libya has had to endure. Al-Megrahi links the death of Fhimah's mother following a heart attack in 1999 to the extradition of her son before the trial. Also the families have had to sell property and land to be able to be present at Camp Zeist.  "It is the waiting that was the worst," said Al-Megrahi. But as bad as the position of the defendants families is, Al-Megrahi said that the families of the 270 crash victims are the most deserving of sympathy. "My brother is in jail, but he is alive. They lost their relatives, and will perhaps never find the truth about how and why this happened.''

    And Fhimah's brother, Ali Fhimah, told the A Sharq Al Awsat newspaper, "we are happy but our happiness is tarnished by the guilty verdict against our brother [Megrahi]. The fight continues until he is acquitted."

    Megrahi´s mother, Fatima, fainted in her home in Tripoli, Libya, as she received the news of her son´s sentence. Together with her, Megrahi´s wife also had to be attended by a doctor. His mother, speaking from her hospital bed Wednesday night, she said: ``I just cried and did not know where to direct my anger. I hope he comes back soon.''

    Reactions: political
    Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who was Secretary of State for Scotland at the time of the disaster, welcomed the decision. Speaking from his home in Edinburgh he said: "It is very much to be welcomed that justice has been done.  "The independence of the court and the findings of the trial cannot be in doubt. "The result will bring some comfort to the relatives of those who died."

    Labour MP for Dumfries Russell Brown, whose constituency includes Lockerbie, said: "I think there will be a degree of relief on the part of many people that a guilty verdict has been secured in all of this. "There will be a degree of relief but there will be further issues beyond this now. "I strongly suspect you will see an appeal being lodged in the next few days and we have also got the UK families representatives, I suspect, wishing to make a plea for an inquiry to be held. "I also suspect there will be consultations with both the American and the Libyan government as a result of this and one issue to be raised is the question of compensation from Libya."

    But the Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin, George Galloway, has described the Lockerbie verdicts as ''perverse''. Reacting to the judgment that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi had been found guilty and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah not guilty, Mr Galloway said the three judges had been required to deliver the "judgment of Solomon". He said he thought the Iranian Government had been responsible for the bombing of Pan Am 103.  Mr Galloway also called on the UK Government to mount a public inquiry into what had happened.

    Labour MP Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow), who has been involved with the Lockerbie case from the start.  "It stretches the imagination that Megrahi alone devised a scheme which led to the biggest murder of Western civilians since 1945. Rightly, they [the judges] have not gone beyond their remit. Therefore there has to be a judicial public inquiry."

    Peter Fraser, Scotland's senior law officer, who initiated the prosecution, said: "I am hugely relieved that after all these years there has been this verdict. At the same time I have to say that justice has been less than perfect so far. They [the relatives] have had to wait this very extended period to hear the outcome."

    A spokesman for Libya's foreign ministry is reported to have said it "respects the decision of Scottish justice and the verdict handed down".

    Abuzed Dorda, Libya's U.N. envoy, denied Libyan involvement in the bombing and told CNN: "Libya had nothing to do with this tragedy at all. Libya as a state had nothing to do with this case." Asked whether he thought the two had had a fair trial, he said Libya was shocked by the verdict against Megrahi but respected what he called the long history of the Scottish legal system."We do not mix the political issue that might be behind the accusation and the role of the trial," he said. Dorda added Libya wanted normal relations with the outside world. "Let's forget about the past. Let's look forward to the future and let's have normal relations and co-operation in different fields," he told BBC television.

    Tony Blair, British PM: Mr Blair's spokesman said: "The prime minister is glad that justice has been done. "The Lockerbie bombing was the most heinous terrorist act of recent years. "Two hundred and seventy people were murdered and their families bereaved and the life of the community of Lockerbie was shattered."

    UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook made a Commons statement at around 1530GMT on Wednesday. He told the House of Commons that sanctions would not be lifted against Libya until it met both demands.  He told MPs that there would be no chance of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi being released early. Mr Cook welcomed the verdicts of the Scottish court in the Netherlands which found Mr Al Megrahi guilty but acquitted his co-accused Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah on Wednesday. The foreign secretary said Libya was required to accept responsibility and pay compensation under the terms of a United Nations Security Council resolution. "It is in Libya's own interest to be seen to be cooperating fully with the resolution of the United Nations Security Council. "Libyan leaders need to take every opportunity to prove to the international community that they have definitively renounced terrorism and will abide by international law."

    Mr Cook added: "There is no question of sanctions being lifted until Libya has fulfilled those requirements." He praised the Scottish justice system under which the Libyan official was convicted. "It is widely agreed that it has proved a fair trial which we promised," he said. "The Lockerbie bombing stands among the most brutal acts of mass murder." Mr Cook said: "Nothing can repair the loss of those who were murdered thatnight or remove the grief of their relatives."But today at last those relatives know that in a fair trial before an open court, justice has been done."

    Mr Cook said he would be discussing what steps should be taken next with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the coming days.

    Shadow Foreign Secretary Francis Maude also said it was important sanctions against Libya continued. He added: "It is clear that Libya has not fulfilled fully the United Nation's Security Council resolutions. "It follows inescapably that the Libyan government is implicated. It must accept responsibility for the bombing of flight Pan Am 103."

    Liberal Democrat spokesman Malcolm Bruce called on Colonel Gadaffi's government in Libya to apologise for the bomb. "This is now an opportunity for Gaddafi to respond by acknowledgingthat Libyan officials have been involved in this dreadful act, to apologise foracts of terrorism which he says he now repudiates and to be prepared to makerecompense to those who have suffered so tragically and to cooperate fully inany public inquiry."

    UK Home Secretary Jack Straw said it was of "crucial importance" that a proper criminal process had taken place.He said it was a "huge testament to the resilience and strength of the Scottish legal system that this process has appeared to have been conducted satisfactorily and with respect for the justice system". Mr Straw declined to comment on the verdicts themselves, saying he had only just heard them and he also did not know the reactions of "those who so terribly lost their loved ones in that appalling crash 12 years ago".

    President George W. Bush on Wednesday applauded the conviction of one Libyan found guilty of murdering 270 people in the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing, and said the government of Libya must take responsibility. The White House also issued a statement saying that the delivery of the verdict against suspects in the Pan Am flight 103 bombing was not enough to signify an end to U.N. sanctions against Libya. "I appreciate so very much that the Scottish court has made a decision and convicted a member of the Libyan intelligence service for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103," Bush told reporters at the White House.

    "Nothing can change the suffering and loss of this terrible act but I hope the families do find some solace that a guilty verdict was rendered," he said. "The United States government will continue to pressure Libya to accept responsibility for this act and to compensate the families."

    The US Justice Department issued a statement from Acting Deputy Attorney General Robert Mueller who said the United States would not halt its efforts to convict any others who had been involved in the bombing. "The United States remains vigilant in its pursuit to bring to justice any other individuals who may have been involved in the conspiracy to bring down Pan Am flight 103," he said.  The White House said in its statement the verdict was not enough to lift U.N. sanctions against Libya". "U.N. Security Council Resolutions call on Libya to satisfy certain requirements, including compensation to the victims' families and the acceptance of responsibility for this act of terrorism, before U.N. sanctions will be removed," it said. "The government of Libya has not yet satisfied these requirements."

    Reactions: other
    Neil Gallagher, the FBI investigator who played a lead role in the case, said he took no satisfaction from the verdict. "From one perspective, I feel rather pleased," he said. "At the same time... you look in the eyes of the families and you realize that these are real people who lost their loved ones."

    Bob Muller, acting U.S. deputy attorney general, vowed that this would not be the end of the Lockerbie case. "The case is not closed," he said. "The investigation continues."

    Professor Robert Black, who was one of the architects behind the Lockerbie bombing trial, said: "I am amazed ! Astonished ! I cannot express my reaction in words. I am stunned. The entire verdict hangs on the edge, upon Gauci´s recognition of Megrahi. They (the judges) have taken the assumption that the suitcase came from Malta. They have chosen to ignore all the contradictive evidence and passed on this judgment. This was not the verdict that anyone expected. "

    One of the journalists covering this trial since many years, Maltese Joe Mifsud, is also surprised over the verdict. In fact, he is so surprised, he has a hard time understanding how the judges could rely on Gauci´s deliric identification - read his analysis of the 82-page verdict, published in the Maltese daily paper The Independent.

  • Read Joe Mifsud´s article HERE

  • Swiss businessman Edwin Bollier, one of the main witnesses in the trial, is also shaken by the verdict: "They have made two grave mistakes. One was not to consult any independent explosives expert. If they had, it would have been evident that there was no explosion inside any container aboard Pan Am 103. The second mistake was to accept the lies of my former employee Ueli Lumpert, who lied in court." On the question whether Bollier would cooperate with any upcoming international inquiry in the Pan Am 103 crash, as proposed by some relatives, he answered: "Of course. I am convinced that such an inquiry will bring new evidence forward that has been omissed during the trial in Camp Zeist. We should gather all strenghts and powers in order to bring the truth out into the light."

    Swiss investigator W. Anthony Meli is also very disappointed over the outcome of the trial: "The promised demonstration of the heralded impartial, totally unbiased and nothing but true legal-decision-producing SCOTTISH JUDICIAL SYSTEM has miserably failed!"

  • Read Anthony Meli´s comment HERE

  • The American author and Pan Am 103-investigator, Bill Blum, said: "The three Scottish judges can not have relished returning to the UK after finding both defendants innocent of the murder of 270 people, largely from the UK and the US.  Not to mention having to directly face dozens of hysterical victims' family members in the courtroom.  And with the full knowledge of the desires of Washington and Downing Street as to the outcome."

  • Bill Blum´s article "The Pan Am 103-verdict" is available HERE

  • Mark Zaid, plaintiffs lawyer for 40 family members of the airline explosion was online on the website of The Washington Post,, Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 3 p.m. EST, to discuss the trial, the verdict, the lawsuits, terrorism and national security. Zaid is Of Counsel to the Washington, D.C. firm of Lobel, Novins and Lamont. He has been involved in the case from the beginning.

  • Transcript of Q+A-session with Mark Zaid at The WashPost website

  • The American anti-Un organization, America´s Survival, earlier involved in bringing forward a secret Lockerbie trial letter from the UN, has issued its own statement in response to the verdict. They are asking president george W. Bush to undermine Libya economical if a military strike is not used in response to the verdict outcome.

  • Read the verdict-communique from America´s Survival HERE

  • A former DEA-agent and Pan Am 103-whistleblower, Lester Coleman, reacted this way after hearing the verdict:
    " The verdict has offered any opportunity for healing, but no solution. I am gratified that Mr. Fimah was found not guilty. His solicitors visited me in the United States last Spring. The guilty verdict of the other accused confirms what I said in Trail of the Octopus in 1993. That is, that if Libya played a role in the bombing, it was one as quartermaster. The verdict confirms my original assertions. There is still no evidence that Libya carried out the plot. I stand by my original claim that the bombing was carried out by the PFLP-GC, Ahmad Jibril, and ploted by Syria. I am proceeding with a civil rights action against several American government agencies which I hope will shed light on the still unanswered questions, who actually blew up Pam Am 103? Will still do not know."

    Scottich Court Services:
    The Scottish Court Service are putting the entire text of the verdict online at their website:
    www.scotcourts.gov.co.uk/html/lockerbie.htm

    Fhima going home
    The Libyan acquitted of the Lockerbie airliner bombing was driven from the trial site at the start of his journey home. A Reuters photographer and television crew saw two black BMW saloons, escorted by a police car, drive towards the exit of the site on a former U.S. airbase in the Netherlands shortly after nightfall. A smiling Fahima, 44, waved to cameras as he was whisked away. He is reportedly married with five children.

    Fahima's immediate destination remained unclear. Dutch Justice Ministry spokesman Victor Holtus would not say where he was taken, nor when he was scheduled to leave the Netherlands, although it would be within 24 hours. "He was handed over to Dutch authorities by the Scots. He was brought to a location and is awaiting departure from Holland," Holtus told Reuters.
     

  • Fhima receives a hero´s welcome on arrival in Tripoli - full coverage

  • Pan Am 103-relatives held press conference

    01/02/01 Reuters + BBC NEWS (!)
    UK relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims have renewed their demand for a far-reaching public inquiry into "unanswered questions" about the disaster. They want several areas not investigated at the criminal trial of two Libyans or a fatal accident inquiry in 1991 to be put under the spotlight.

    Members of UK Families Flight 103 were speaking at a news conference the day after Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, 49, was convicted of murdering 270 people. Their comments came as Scotland's most senior legal official ruled out the possibility of any further criminal action in the Lockerbie case for the foreseeable future.

    Rev. John Mosey, who lost his daughter Helga, said: "Because of the trial, terrorists will never again be able to feel safe in their beds. "They will be aware that ordinary people do have the tenacity to pursue the truth and that governments can and will support such pursuits." Central to the group's concerns is the failure of the intelligence services and the aviation authorities to prevent a suitcase packed with plastic explosive from being loaded onto Pan Am flight 103 from Heathrow to New York on 21 December 1988. Several bomb warnings were circulating at the time of the disaster, including one focusing on the risk of a bomb inside a Toshiba radio cassette recorder being placed on a plane.

    Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was among the dead, stressed: "I do not intend to challenge the verdict of the judges nor the excellent work of the Scottish police. "It does, however, affect the question of how the atrocity was actually carried out as well as the question about who else might have been involved. "Why on earth did Pan Am flight 103 fall upon Lockerbie?  "Why did it not fall in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean?"

    He said Megrahi could have used the highly-accurate timer on the bomb to blow the plane up over water, making it almost impossible to retrieve vital evidence. Dr Swire also suggested the possible involvement of a group of Palestinian extremists, some of whose members were arrested by police near Frankfurt in Germany two months before the disaster. They were found to have been making bombs similar to the one Megrahi was convicted of planting.

    The families want politicians in power at the time of the bombing to be called before a public inquiry to explain exactly what they knew in 1988 and in subsequent years. Dr Swire said the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher was "undoubtedly" a key witness and that she should appear to give evidence. Another relative sitting at the top table, Martin Cadman, appeared to jar with Dr Swire's comments about not impugning the court's verdicts. He said: "We have our doubts about the guilt of Megrahi and that will have to remain the subject of an appeal." The group's secretary, Pamela Dix, said Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook - who were in opposition when the plane crashed - had admitted there would be "unanswered questions".

    Speaking on behalf of the UK Families-Flight 103 Group, the gaunt, grey-haired doctor Swire said: "For many of us, it would help to know the identity and motives of those who ordered the murder of our loved ones, how they did it and why they were not prevented from doing so." "Yesterday we learned, subject to any appeal, the identity of one of those men, thanks to the fairest criminal trial that we could ever hope to see." Pamela Dix, who lost her brother in the Lockerbie bombing, said the families would push relentlessly for a full inquiry into the attack. It was essential to "establish the whole truth and learn the lessons for the future," she said.

    John Mosey, a churchman member of the group, said the Lockerbie trial would serve to make sure perpetrators of such atrocities would not escape justice. "Because of this trial, terrorists will never feel safe in their beds again," he said. He too said the British government should heed the families' calls for a full investigation. "We will not be put off forever," he said.

    Swire: relations between Libya and the UK
    "The course of reconciliation between nations is a better course than that of confrontation," Swire said when asked how he would like relations between Britain and Libya to develop. "Surely it is confrontation and indeed aggression that leads to acts of revenge such as Lockerbie. Most of us would prefer to see relations improve...rather than pronounce some great verdict about a pariah state." Swire told reporters that when he collapsed in the Camp Zeist courtroom, he had a flash vision of himself reading his own obituary. He thanked the media for their support of what they believed to be right. "Without you we would have sunk from sight."

    Colin Boyd speaks on inquiry demand
    A Foreign Office representative was said to have told the group on Thursday morning that no decision about a public inquiry could be made until the entire criminal process had been completed. Scotland's senior law officer, Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC, was asked for his position on a public inquiry while addressing the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

    He said: "It is for the UK Government to consider whether or not there should be any further inquiries of the nature that has been suggested." Mr Boyd pointed out that some relatives of those who died were more in favour of a public inquiry than others. "The American families are focussed on further criminal proceedings and also civil proceedings raised in the United States district court.  "It would appear that there is not a unanimity of view as to perhaps what the best way forward is, even among the relatives." Mr Boyd pointed out that Megrahi had been convicted of "acting along with others" but said he had no plans for further criminal proceedings at present because of a lack of evidence: "My judgment at present is that there is insufficient evidence to justify further proceedings at this time. Clearly if new evidence becomes available, we will re- assess the position," he said.
     

    Press and media: the day after
    LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Arab media declared the Lockerbie case closed and demanded an end to sanctions against Libya on Thursday, but most Western press insisted Tripoli had to confess more and pay up to win forgiveness for the airliner bombing.

    The conviction of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi for the murders of 270 people in 1988 by a court in the Netherlands only widened the divide between those eager to end Libya's isolation and those who suspect its leader Muammar Gaddafi was the real killer.

    Newspapers in Gulf Arab states echoed Libya's own demands for a total lifting of the U.N. sanctions, which include a flight ban, arms embargo and diplomatic restrictions. "It is the duty of the Security Council now to take a decision to immediately lift sanctions on Libya, which has cooperated fully with the court to end this case," Qatar's al-Raya newspaper said.

    In the United Arab Emirates, al-Ittihad daily said: "It is difficult to predict an end to this tragedy in its second phase, and it depends on how Libya will deal with the conditions and blackmail by the United States and Britain and how ready (U.N. Secretary-General) Kofi Annan is...to be free of American pressure." The UAE's al-Bayan said sanctions had "punished millions of innocent people for a crime they did not commit."

    British newspapers said Gaddafi must bear his share of the blame.  "Just as the pain continues, so do the questions," said The Guardian. "It is plainly absurd to suggest that Megrahi acted alone," it added. The Times said: "Libya is firmly implicated in this crime." The Sun, Britain's top-selling daily, said: "The Lockerbie bomb trail leads directly to Colonel Gaddafi's door... It is impossible that Gaddafi
    did not know about the plot. So he must be brought to book." The Financial Times said Gaddafi's "taste for mischief should not be underestimated, as evidenced by his attempt last year to smuggle Scud missile parts through Britain." The Daily Telegraph called on the government to back away from its diplomatic rapprochement with Libya.

    The New York Times, too, said Tripoli had not done enough for sanctions to be lifted and urged Washington to "continue to press for full justice through diplomatic means." "The Libyan government was not a formal defendant in this trial," the paper noted. "But it has been part of the Lockerbie case all along." USA Today called the trial verdict "a milestone rather than an ending."

    Germany's conservative Die Welt said the international community should not continue to isolate Tripoli. "Despite all hubris, Gaddafi is not crazy. He is looking for openings. That distinguishes him from a Saddam Hussein or a Slobodan Milosevic." The liberal Sueddeutsche Zeitung took a similar line. "The Lockerbie trial stands for nothing less than a gradual change in global politics towards more legality and civilisation," it said. The paper said the trial showed that the international court in The Hague should also deal with "international terrorism." "In future justice should not be allowed to remain dependent on political horse trading."

    Dutch broadsheet Volkskrant said the verdict showed Megrahi was only the executor of a plan that originated higher up in the Libyan regime. "Suspension of U.N. sanctions against Libya is the wrong signal towards the surviving relatives of Lockerbie as well as Libya. First of all, however, Libya should accept responsibility for Lockerbie and pay compensation to the hurt families."
     

  • The day after: what the wolrd press wrote about the verdict (BBC collection)



  • Libya reaffirms dismissal of Lockerbie verdict

    03/02/01 Reuters
    TRIPOLI, Libya (Reuters) - Libyan mosque preachers and government-controlled newspapers Friday dismissed the Lockerbie bombing verdict as a political decision orchestrated by the United States and Britain. "The verdict was a political decision taken under the pressure of the big powers, the United States of America and Great Britain," imam Ahmed al-Balazi told hundreds of worshippers at Moulay Mohammed mosque in central Tripoli. "The Lockerbie verdict is a political verdict in line with the wishes of America and Britain," echoed Al Fajr al Jadid daily newspaper.

    Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has said he has proof that Megrahi was innocent and that he would disclose the evidence Monday. He said the verdict at the end of the nine-month trial had been influenced by the U.S. government, a line government officials and many ordinary Libyans repeated Friday.

    At the Moulay Mohammed mosque, imam Balazi said "We ask God to give us justice," echoing widespread disappointment among ordinary Libyans about the verdict pronounced in the Netherlands. "We could only expect such a verdict coming from our enemies because the
    West harbours hatred of the Arabs," said Nouri al Grioui, a trader, on the steps of the mosque.

    For Ali Hattab, a 30-year-old teacher, the verdict was dictated by the United States to punish Libya for closing down American military bases in the 1960s. "The Americans have not forgiven us for shutting down their military bases. That's why they put pressure on the court to get such a verdict," he said.

    The North African country's three main newspapers carried front-page editorials asking for an immediate lifting of the U.N. sanctions against Libya. Azzahf al Akhdar newspaper said Tripoli was losing patience with the delay in ending the sanctions, which were suspended after Libya handed over the two bombing suspects in April 1999. "The Libyan people will only accept the immediate lifting of the sanctions...If that is not achieved then the Libyans will have to make a decision at the appropriate time," it wrote, without saying what this decision could be.

    Libyans attempted suicide over verdict
    Three Libyans have slashed their throats during a demonstration in the capital, Tripoli, against the conviction of a Libyan for the Lockerbie bombing.  A correspondent for Reuters news agency saw one young man fall to the ground, blood spurting from his neck before being taken away in an ambulance. Witnesses said two other protesters had also cut their throats in anger at what they called the US-inspired verdict.

    Libyan TV coverage of the demonstration showed an ambulance driving away at speed, and blood on the street, but did not show anybody injured, nor give any indication of the source of the blood. The demonstrators chanted against US "blackmail" and the "unjust verdict against our compatriot," yelling "Allah Akbar!" "Scottish judge, you must commit suicide because your verdict is shameful," read one placard.

    The head of Libya´s Center for Human Rights read out a condemnation message in Arabic. Then the message was translated into English. He said: "By issuing this verdict, the judges at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands have forgotten their professional conscience." He called out for a full compensation claim against the UN, UK and USA for the year long sanctions policy. He also called out for a major Libyan boycott of westerns goods and firms, prohibiting such firms from participating in any developing enterprises and businesses inside Libya. He stressed the importance of the will of the people, saying the diplomatic Libyan efforts after the verdict have been far to soft-spoken, thus the Libyan people should decide and speak up for justice.

    Mohammed Rashid al Megrahi, 41, a cousin of the convicted agent, said: "We never had doubts about his innocence. We expected him to return, acquitted by the Scottish court. We are deeply disappointed, and we feel wounded by this injustice." Megrahi's son, Khaled, took part in the protests, holding up a banner which read: "My father is innocent".

    When a copy of that condemnation letter was read out loud at the demonstration in fron of the UN office in Tripoli, there were suddenly tumultous scenes as cameras began shaking and people moved wildly. The camera then suddenly turned to show a man on the street, blood splashing all around him, and several people picking him up, carrying and running then disappearing. The sound of an ambulance was audible on the transmission.

    "The three men slashed their throats to show the world that Libyan blood is cheap to defend the country and the people's dignity," said Ali al-Arif, 63, one of the demonstrators. Officials could give no word on the condition of the three men. Speakers at the demonstration said people were taking to the streets because the Foreign Ministry and the government had failed to handle the case as the people expected.

    The mainly young protesters carried carrying placards reading: "The verdict is unjust," "Abdel Basset will be home as (Libyan) leader Muammar Gaddafi promised" and "Scottish judge--you must commit suicide because your verdict is shameful." They condemned what they called a "CIA-dictated" verdict, and demanded compensation for the victims of the 1986 US air raids on Tripoli and Benghazi. Other demonstrations were held in the Libyan cities of Benghazi, Qubba, Beni Weleed, Azzawiya, Tarhuna, Nalut, Ghareeyan and Misrata.



    updating finishes Thursday February 8, 2001
    After this date, go to LATEST NEWS for news after the verdict