USIS Washington 

24 August 1998


(Scottish court would try accused Libyans in Netherlands (1070)

Washington -- Secretary of State Albright says the United States, the
United Kingdom and the Netherlands have devised a way to break the
decade-long deadlock over how and where to try the two Libyans charged
with the sabotage bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland.

She announced August 24 the three nations have agreed that the pair
should be tried before a court of Scottish justices applying Scottish
law convened in the Netherlands.

Albright noted that Libya has repeatedly stated it was willing to
deliver the two suspects for trial before a Scottish court meeting in
a third country. She pointed out that the new proposal "is fully
consistent with UN resolutions and has been suggested to us as a way
to call the Libyan Government's bluff and to bring the fugitives into
court at long last."

The Secretary made it clear that this proposal is being presented on a
"take-it-or-leave-it" basis. "It is not subject to negotiation or
change," she said, "nor should it be subject to additional
foot-dragging or delay. We are ready to begin such a trial as soon as
Libya turns over the suspects. We expect -- and the families (of the
victims) deserve -- an immediate answer."

Following is the State Department transcript:

(begin transcript)


Office of the Spokesman

August 24, 1998



Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning. As the President said last week, we
are engaged in a long-term struggle against terrorism in which we will
use every means, including diplomatic, economic and force where
necessary, to hold terrorists accountable and to protect American

Last week, we used armed force to protect Americans from continuing
terrorist attacks. The President announced a freeze on the financial
assets of a terrorist network. Our law enforcement investigation of
the African embassy bombings continues. And today, I'm announcing
another effort to bring terrorists to justice.

It has been a decade since Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie,
Scotland, killing all 259 people aboard and 11 others on the ground.
From the outset, America's goal and that of the United Kingdom has
been to apprehend and bring before the bar of justice those
responsible for this cowardly act of mass murder.

A lengthy and exhaustive investigation by British and US law
enforcement officials developed compelling evidence implicating a
senior Libyan intelligence official and the former manager of the
Libyan Arab Airlines office in Malta. Both were agents of the Libyan
Government; both were indicted in US and UK courts for their parts in
the crime.

Since those indictments, the UN Security Council has repeatedly
directed that the Libyan Government turn over the two suspects for
trial before a US or Scottish court. The Council agreed to impose
sanctions until Libya complies. Those sanctions have been regularly
reviewed and reaffirmed.

Unfortunately, year after year has passed without resolution. The
sanctions have not altered Libyan intransigence. The families of the
victims have become increasingly and understandably frustrated. The
cause of justice was not being served.

Accordingly, the United States and the United Kingdom began exploring
whether it might be possible for a Scottish court to hold a trial
presided over by Scottish judges outside Scotland. This step is fully
consistent with UN Security Council resolutions, and has been
suggested to us as a way to call the Libyan Government's bluff and to
bring the fugitives into court at long last.

After consultations with The Netherlands, we have concluded that such
a trial is, indeed, possible. Accordingly, we have decided to go
forward with a trial of the two suspects before a Scottish court with
Scottish judges applying Scottish law. We thank The Netherlands
Government for indicating its willingness to host this proceeding.

We note that Libya has repeatedly stated its readiness to deliver the
suspects for trial by a Scottish court sitting in a third country.
This approach has been endorsed by the Arab League, the Organization
of African Unity, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the
Non-Aligned Movement. We now challenge Libya to turn promises into
deeds. The suspects should be surrendered for trial promptly. We call
upon the members of organizations that have endorsed this approach to
urge Libya to end its ten years of evasion now.

Let me be clear: the plan the US and the UK are putting forward is a
"take-it-or-leave-it" proposition. It is not subject to negotiation or
change, nor should it be subject to additional foot-dragging or delay.
We are ready to begin such a trial as soon as Libya turns over the
suspects. We expect -- and the families deserve -- an immediate

In closing, I want to add a personal note. For years now, as US
Ambassador to the United Nations and as Secretary of State, I have
been in contact with many of the families of those murdered on Pan Am
103. I was in touch with them again this morning. As may be expected,
these families don't all agree on the proper strategy for achieving
accountability in this case. But they all agree on that goal, for they
all share the anguish of having lost a loved one to terror. And they
all agree that the delay in bringing the suspects to trial has gone on
for far too long.

In dealing with a tragedy as profound and gut-wrenching as this one,
we cannot speak of achieving true justice in the human sense. For true
justice implies a balancing of the scales; and there is no action or
force or thing on Earth that can balance the loss of a husband, a
daughter, son, parent or wife. But we can and do demand
accountability. One way or another, terrorists must answer for their

As the events of recent days illustrate, America is determined to see
that the perpetrators of terrorism past are brought to account; to
respond swiftly and firmly to present acts of terror; and to deter and
prevent such crimes in the future. We owe that to the families of Pan
Am 103, to other victims of terror, to all Americans and to decent and
law-abiding people everywhere.

Thank you.

(end transcript)