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Reevel Alderson, home affairs correspondent
"The witness denied being a murderer and a liar"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 14 November, 2000, 18:59 GMT
Lockerbie lawyers quiz Palestinian
Trial bench
Talb has denied involvement in the bombing
Defence lawyers have started questioning a Palestinian man who they accuse of the Lockerbie bombing.

Mohammed Abu Talb - who is serving a life sentence in a Swedish jail for bombing offences - has already denied he was involved in the attack on Pan Am Flight 103.

Two Libyans are on trial for the atrocity - but they have blamed Talb and nine other people.

He is a former member of a Palestinian terror group, the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF).

Trial details
The two accused are Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, 48, and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44
Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, killing all 259 people on board and another 11 on the ground
The two men deny three charges - murder, conspiracy to murder and a breach of the 1982 Aviation Security Act
The trial is taking place in a Scottish courtroom at Camp Zeist, in the Netherlands
The case is being heard by a panel of Scottish judges
On the first day of his evidence last Friday, Talb told the court that he was not involved in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, in which 270 people died.

On Tuesday, under questioning from defence QC Bill Taylor, Talb said he was in jail for bombing offences - but denied he was guilty.

Talb was jailed for life in 1989 after being convicted of the bombing of a Danish synagogue in 1985.

But he told Mr Taylor: "I was convicted although I was not there and did not admit the crime. I ended my work and all activities relating to Palestine at end of '82."

Mr Taylor also questioned him on his family's links with terrorism.

Talb said his sister-in-law had been killed while she carried out an assassination attempt in Israel.

Describing her as a martyr, he said she may have been killed by the current Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak - then a senior army officer.

Asked if she was killed by Israeli soldiers, Talb replied: "Yes - Ehud Barak, the current prime minister, himself shot at her."

Mr Taylor suggested that Talb's brother-in-law had returned to Sweden from Syria with detonators hidden in a suitcase handle.

Bomb attack

But he replied: "I know nothing about that."

In a special defence, counsel for the two accused - Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah - allege that the Syrian-backed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) and the lesser-known PPSF were responsible for the bomb attack.

Talb is mentioned in this special defence as having links with both groups.

Prosecutors allege the two Libyans planted a bomb in a suitcase at Malta's Luqa airport and routed it onto a plane bound for Frankfurt which was eventually transferred to the ill-fated flight to New York.

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See also:

08 Nov 00 | World
Lockerbie request goes to Syria
07 Nov 00 | Middle East
Closed meeting at Lockerbie trial
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