Lockerbie Verdict Places Pressure on Libya
Libya is facing mounting pressure to pay compensation to victims' families after a Libyan was convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing in which 270 people died, according to reports. However, the Arab League urged the UN Security Council to permanently lift sanctions on Libya following the verdict in the Lockerbie bombing trial.
Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi, 48, was found guilty of murder on Wednesday, and sentenced to life in prison in Glasgow. He will be eligible for parole in 20 years. A second defendant, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44, was found not guilty and returned to Libya Thursday.
Libya's ambassador to Britain said on Thursday he did not rule out paying compensation to the relatives of victims of the Lockerbie disaster if an appeal by the Libyan convicted of planting the bomb were rejected, according to AFP.
Ambassador Mohamed Azwai was quoted as telling the BBC radio that his government would take no decision on compensation until the appeal, to be lodged by Megrahi against his conviction, had been heard.
American relatives of the victims say they can now raise a $10b civil action against the Libyan government, which they blame for ordering the atrocity, said BBC, quoting as saying Jim Swire and Reverend John Mosey, who represent UK victims' families. The two men said they are to launch a new campaign at a media conference on Thursday, calling for a full public inquiry into the disaster.
A timetable is being drawn up by US and UK political leaders to decide the next move in the diplomatic battle with Libyan leader Moammar Kadhafi.
Both countries have insisted that United Nations sanctions against Libya will not be lifted entirely until it accepts responsibility for the bombing and pays out compensation to the families of the bereaved.
US President George Bush insisted Wednesday that Tripoli take responsibility for the mass slaughter of 270 people in 1988.
But Libya tried to distance itself from the bombing. In Tripoli, a senior Libyan official denied the accusation, saying Libya had "no responsibility" for the bombing, said AFP.
Asked by the BBC if Libya would accept responsibility, Libya Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgam replied: "Never".
The United Nations Security Council has said trade sanctions against Libya will only be lifted when compensation has been paid to relatives of Lockerbie victims.
The BBC.online said that a meeting is expected to take place next week in New York between US and Libyan officials to spell out exactly what Tripoli must do to get sanctions lifted.
In the Libyan capital Tripoli, meanwhile, the verdicts were followed by public demonstrations against the Lockerbie trial and the West, said the news service.
Not only this, but Libyans said they were victims of US air raids on their country and suffered from a decade of UN sanctions, and so they have a right to compensation, official Libyan television was quoted by AFP as saying late Wednesday.
Libya suffered billions of dollars loss due to the 1992-1999 embargo. When the UN Security Council froze the sanctions after Tripoli handed over the two suspects to court, economic growth rose by two percent, according to a report by Abu Dhabi satellite channel.
Meanwhile, Secretary General of the Arab League on Thursday urged the UN Security Council to lift the sanctions on Libya following the verdict, reported Al Jazira satellite channel – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)