USIS Washington 

28 August 1998


(Libyan suspects would be tried in Netherlands)  (580)

By Judy Aita

USIA United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The Security Council has officially endorsed the
joint proposal of the United States and the United Kingdom that the
two Libyan suspects in the Pan Am flight 103 bombing case be tried
under Scottish law in the Netherlands, and warned that it would
consider additional measures if "the two accused have not arrived or
appear for trial promptly."

The Libyans, Abdel Basset ali Mohmaed al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa
Fhimah, are accused of being responsible for the 1988 bombing in which
270 persons died when the airliner exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The Council unanimously adopted a resolution August 27 setting forth
the responsibilities for the arrangement and stating that the
mandatory economic sanctions in place against Libya since 1992 would
be suspended as soon as Secretary General Kofi Annan reports that the
accused have arrived in the Netherlands for trial or have appeared
before an appropriate court in the United Kingdom or the United

The resolution also stipulates that Libya must also satisfy French
investigators regarding the bombing of a UTA flight over Niger in
September 1989, which killed 170 persons, before sanctions can be

The United States and the United Kingdom presented their proposal
August 24, after having been urged to compromise by the Arab League,
the Islamic Conference, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization
of African Unity which have been involved in trying to find a
compromise. Washington and London had originally insisted the two be
tried in either the United States or Scotland.

The Council has directed the Secretary General to work with the
Netherlands to help Libya with the physical arrangements for the safe
transfer of the two accused from Libya and asked the Secretary General
to nominate international observers to attend the trial.

Stressing that the Council has taken "an important step toward
obtaining a measure of justice for the victims of the Pan Am bombing
and their families," US Ambassador A. Peter Burleigh challenged Libya
to give a "simple, straightforward acceptance" of the proposal.

"The United States, the Security Council and the world community are
watching. Most importantly, the family members of the 270 victims of
the Pan Am 103 bombing are watching," Burleigh said.

"Failure of Libya to act promptly to ensure the appearance of the
defendants would be a monumental breach of faith which would compel
the Security Council to act appropriately in response. We hope that
will not be necessary," he said.

Burleigh said that the United States expected "unhesitating and
unequivocal support" from the nations and regional organizations who
have pressed for the new trial arrangement. He pressed them "to urge
Libya in the strongest terms to turn over the two defendants for trial
without delay."

"Just as we will be watching Libya's response to this resolution, we
will be carefully gauging the response of those nations and
organizations," he said.

In April 1992, the Council imposed mandatory sanctions cutting air
links to Libya because of Libyan leader Mu'ammar Qadhafi's failure to
cooperate with the United States and Britain in the extradition of the
two Libyans suspects in the Pan Am flight 103 case and with France in
the investigation of the bombing of a UTA flight. In November 1993,
the Council added to the original sanctions by freezing Tripoli's
assets and embargoing equipment needed by Libya's oil industry.