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The BBC's David Shukman at Camp Zeist
"This court has been the scene of a most extraordinary trial"
 real 56k

The BBC's Steve Kingstone
"The judges have reached a verdict"
 real 56k

Glasgow University Law School's Clare Connolly
"They quite clearly have a very good grasp of the evidence of this case and a great knowledge of this case"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 15:34 GMT
Judges ready to give Lockerbie verdict
The Lockerbie trial judges
The judges have ploughed through masses of evidence
The judges trying the two Libyans accused of the Lockerbie bombing will deliver their verdict on Wednesday.

The three judges returned to the special Scottish court sitting at Camp Zeist, in the Netherlands, on Tuesday morning after an 11-day adjournment to consider the mass of evidence.

The accused are alleged to have caused a bomb to be loaded onto Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York on 21 December 1988.

The Boeing 747 exploded 38 minutes into the flight, killing all 259 people on board and 11 more on the ground in the Scottish Borders town of Lockerbie.

Presiding judge Lord Sutherland said: "We do not propose to issue a verdict today. We are however able to inform you that we will be in a position to do so tomorrow."

He said that because of security considerations the court would convene later than usual in the morning - 1000 GMT.

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 murder. Charges of conspiracy to murder and a breach of the 1982 Aviation Security Act were dropped
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
The court then adjourned, having sat for less than one minute.

The trial finished on 19 January and the bench said it would retire to consider its opinion and return on 30 January to give a progress report.

The bench has heard 84 days of evidence from 230 witnesses, resulting in a total of 10,232 pages of court transcripts covering more than three million words.

The Libyans - Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, 48, and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44, - face life imprisonment if convicted.

The accused deny the charges against them.

The judges can find them guilty, not guilty and under Scottish law they have the option of a third verdict - not proven.

However, BBC Scotland home affairs correspondent Reevel Alderson, who has reported on the steps leading to the trial and the trial itself, said it is considered unlikely the judges will pass a not proven verdict.

Not guilty or not proven verdicts would see the accused walk free, leaving the US and UK with an embarrassing failure after imposing years of isolation on Libya through United Nations sanctions.

Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah
Fhima: Wait for the verdict nearly over
It would also leave grieving relatives of the victims with no answer to 12 years of questions why and how the terrorist act was carried out.

Many of the relatives - both from the USA and the UK - have said that regardless of the trial outcome they still want to see a full public inquiry held into the tragedy.

The prosecution has alleged that it has proved "beyond reasonable doubt" that the men in the dock are guilty.

It said the evidence clearly showed that Al Megrahi and Fhimah worked together to plant an unaccompanied suitcase containing a bomb packed inside a radio cassette recorder on board a Frankfurt-bound Air Malta flight at Malta's Luqa airport.

The suitcase was tagged for transfer at Frankfurt to join doomed Flight 103 destined for New York via London Heathrow.

Abedelbast Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi
Al Megrahi: Denies the charges
The defence has called on the judges to deliver not guilty verdicts, dismissing the evidence against its clients as "unreliable" and "circumstantial".

On the last day of evidence the judges heard Richard Keen, QC, representing Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, systematically attempt to dismiss the Crown's allegations by challenging the quality of testimony.

He said: "We have inference upon inference upon inference, leading to an inference."

The defence counsels closed their case abruptly after bringing only three witnesses against 230 for the prosecution.

The defence accused Palestinian extremists of carrying out the bombing, probably on behalf of Iran in revenge for the shooting down of an Iranian civilian Airbus earlier in 1988 by the American warship USS Vincennes.

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See also:

30 Jan 01 | World
Analysis: Lockerbie's long road
30 Jan 01 | Lockerbie Trial
Fight goes on, say families
24 Jan 01 | World
Q&A: The Lockerbie trial
19 Jan 01 | World
A truly exceptional trial
24 Jan 01 | World
The men in robes
30 Jan 01 | Middle East
Libya's fate hangs in the balance
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