Libyan leader Muammar Kadhafi said Thursday that Libya will not pay compensation for the families of the Lockerbie victims, and insisted that the convicted Libyan national Abdul Basset Megrahi is innocent. He said that he has evidence to prove that and will reveal it on Monday.
The leader’s remarks came as he received the acquitted co-defendant Al Amin Khalifa Fhima upon his arrival to Tripoli from Camp Zeist where the trial had taken place.
Fhima, 44, received a hero’s welcome, said BBC.online, when he set foot on Libyan soil for the first time in nearly two years after being found not guilty at the end of the nine-month trial. The BBC radio broadcasted Kadhafi’s remarks in which he accused the US of placing pressure on the court.
Meanwhile, a US lawyer representing 150 families of those who died in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing said Friday he was seeking damages of one billion dollars from the Libyan government, reported AFP.
“We want substantial compensatory and punitive damages for each of the families. A realistic amount across the board will be in the one billion dollar area," Lee Kreindler told Dubai's Gulf News.
On Thursday, British Foreign Minister Robin Cook pressed Libya to pay compensation to the victim's families.
"Libya has in the past said that it would pay compensation if there was a guilty verdict," Cook said. "There has been a guilty verdict, and a guilty verdict against a very senior official of Libyan intelligence."
London and Washington are demanding 500 million pounds (740 million dollars, 785 million euros) in compensation, or roughly two million pounds for each of the 270 victims of the Lockerbie disaster.
Libya's newly-appointed ambassador to Britain said his government would consider compensation if the appeal against conviction that Megrahi is expected to lodge is rejected.
"We said it before that if our people are guilty, we pay compensation at that time, but up until this moment, we believe legal matters have not been finalized," Mohamed Azwai told BBC radio.
At the Arab level, the Arab League led the call Thursday for a lifting of sanctions on Libya following the verdict in the Lockerbie bombing trial.
China, Egypt, Italy, Spain and former South African Nelson Mandela, also voiced support for an end to the sanctions, while France decided on a wait-and-see approach, said AFP.
"The Security Council must take immediate steps to permanently lift the sanctions imposed on Libya," said Esmat Abdel Meguid, secretary general of the 22-member Arab League, which includes Libya.
Abdel Meguid said he will study steps to lift the sanctions when he meets next week in New York with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and with the chair of the Security Council, currently Arab League member Tunisia.
The agency also reported that the Netherlands deported the imam of the biggest mosque in Utrecht in October after discovering that he was a high-ranking Libyan spy, quoting Dutch external security services as saying Friday.
A spokesman confirmed a report in the Volkskrant daily that the imam, Ahmed Ali Hadi, had been sent to the Netherlands in 1991 by the World Islamic Call Society, a Libyan organization which has managed the al-Farouk mosque in Utrecht since 1983.
Members of the Islamic community expressed surprise at the expulsion, said AFP, with the director of the Utrecht multicultural institute wondering why it took so long for Dutch intelligence to uncover the imam's spying activities.
The imam's expulsion had nothing to do with the Lockerbie case, the spokesman said – Albawaba.com
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