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Home affairs correspondent Reevel Alderson
"One of the accused said he would ask judges to throw out the case"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 21 November, 2000, 11:59 GMT
Lockerbie trial adjourns
Lockerbie crash
The plane came down in Lockerbie
The Lockerbie trial has been adjourned for a week to allow the defence teams to prepare their cases.

On Monday the prosecution case ended after more than six months of evidence.

When the trial resumes, one of the two accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, is expected to ask the judges to throw out the case against him.

It is expected that the legal argument concerning that matter could take up to three days.

The lawyer for Mr Fhimah will argue at the Scottish court in the Netherlands that insufficient evidence has been presented against his client.

The hearing, which was opened 71 days ago by Scotland's most senior law officer, Lord Advocate Colin Boyd, has featured 250 witnesses and several lengthy adjournments.

The Crown is seeking to show that a huge amount of circumstantial evidence, when taken together, proves Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah carried out the bombing, in which 270 people died.

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
Next week the court will hear a motion that there is no case to answer against Mr Fhimah.

The judges will be asked to decide on the weight of evidence against him, rather than the quality of the Crown case.

There has been no similar move from Megrahi, and there is now speculation he will be the first witness when the defence case begins next week.

Earlier, a senior American journalist told the trial that he knows who carried out the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

But Pierre Salinger, former chief foreign correspondent for the ABC network, was infuriated when the court would not allow him to name who he believed was to blame.

Mr Salinger said: "I know that these two Libyans had nothing to do with it. I know who did it and I know exactly why it was done."

He was based at ABC's London office when the two accused were indicted in 1991.

The court heard that Mr Salinger, who appeared as a prosecution witness, had interviewed the two standing trial.

Bomb journey

Judges were shown extracts from the interview in which Mr Megrahi strongly denied being involved.

He added he had never been a member of the Libyan intelligence agency, and his family and countrymen would be "ashamed" to do such a job.

Mr Megrahi said he had not been in Malta on the day the bomb began its journey to Heathrow via Frankfurt.

Mr Salinger was then asked about how he had obtained the meeting, but he was stopped from giving his views on the case.

After Alan Turnbull QC, prosecuting, and defence counsel William Taylor QC and Richard Keen QC finished their questioning, the trial judge, Lord Sutherland, asked Mr Salinger to leave the witness box.

The broadcaster said: "That's all? You're not letting me tell the truth.

Charges denied

"Wait a minute, I know exactly who did it. I know how it was done."

Lord Sutherland interrupted and told the witness: "If you wish to make a point you may do so elsewhere, but I'm afraid you may not do so in this court."

The two men deny three charges, of conspiracy, murder and Contravening the Aviation Security Act 1982.

The defence says that Palestinian terror groups, not the Libyans, were responsible for the attack.

Mr Salinger was one of the last witnesses for the prosecution, which has previously called a Libyan spy and secret agents from the CIA and Stasi.

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See also:

17 Nov 00 | World
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16 Nov 00 | World
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08 Nov 00 | World
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