The French appeals court will announce on October 20 whether it intends to pursue Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi for his alleged role in the 1989 bombing of a French airliner over Niger, judicial sources said Friday.
Examining magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere had said last October that there were grounds to hear a case filed by the French association SOS-Attacks.
The organization, which represents victims of terrorist attacks, wanted to bring charges of "complicity in voluntary manslaughter" against Kadhafi, for his alleged role in the 1989 bombing of a French DC-10 which killed 170.
But the public prosecutors office appealed, citing a judicial precedent, which protects acting heads of state from prosecution.
Both sides were heard before the appeals court Friday morning, in a climate marked by Libya's role in negotiating the release of French hostages in the Philippines, and the ensuing warming of relations between the two countries.
While public prosecutor Annie Grenier pushed for the respect of Kadhafi's judicial immunity, SOS-Attacks lawyer Francis Szpiner argued that Kadhafi is not strictly the head of the Libyan state, whose president is Mohamed Zenati.
In March 1999, the Paris appeals court handed down sentences to six presumed members of the Libyan secret service -- including Khadafi's brother-in-law -- after a 10-year investigation led by Bruguiere.
The public prosecutor's office said last August that it believed the case closed following the March trial, in which civil plaintiffs had ample opportunity to file a complaint.
In a television interview last month, Khadafi said: "That affair is past and I hope such circumstances will never occur again." - PARIS (AFP)
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