BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's David Shukman
"The quest for truth goes on"
 real 56k

UK Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook
"Libya has to accept responsibility"
 real 28k

Bert Amerman lost his brother on the flight
"I do not believe we will ever get the full story"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 31 January, 2001, 17:50 GMT
Libya urged to take Lockerbie 'blame'
Newspaper front pages go up in a Lockerbie shop
Verdict making headline news in Scotland and the world
Libya is being pressed to accept responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing after one of its intelligence officers was convicted by a Scottish court in the Netherlands.

The United States, UK and relatives of the 270 people who died in the 1988 atrocity insist Libya should meet in full the requirements of the United Nations Security Council.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, a married man with children, is to appeal after being found guilty of murdering all those on the plane and 11 others on the ground.

I hope the families do find some solace that a guilty verdict was rendered

George W Bush
He will remain in custody pending the appeal at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, from where his co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, has now left on his way home to Libya after acquittal.

If Megrahi's appeal fails, he will be taken to Scotland to serve a life sentence with no prospect of parole before 20 years.

Megrahi: Jailed for life
His position as a relatively senior officer within Libya's intelligence service (Jamahariya Security Organisation) has raised suspicions in the West that Colonel Gaddafi was involved in the New York-bound jet being brought down by a bomb packed into a suitcase.

But Libya's United Nations envoy Abuzed Omar Dorda flatly denied that there had been any state collusion.

He argued that Megrahi, 48, and Fhimah, 44, had been tried as individuals.

"When the prosecutors dropped two of their accusations which concerned conspiracy, that means by the definition of Scotch (sic) lawyers and law experts, that Libya as a state has nothing to do with that," he said.

Sanctions remain

But he accepted that Libya would honour any financial penalties assessed as the result of civil action in Scottish courts.

Libya has called for the immediate lifting of sanctions imposed by the United Nations after the bombing. This has been rejected by Western governments.

After Libya handed over the two men in 1999 for trial, the UN suspended the sanctions it imposed in 1992, including the ban on flights in and out of the North African country.

US relatives comfort each other after hearing the verdicts
US relatives comfort each other after hearing the verdicts
Resolutions passed by the UN Security Council demand that Libya satisfies several requirements, including compensation to the victims' families and the acceptance of responsibility for "this act of terrorism" before the sanctions can be lifted.

US President George W Bush applauded the conviction of Megrahi but stressed that the government of Libya must take responsibility.

"Nothing can change the suffering and loss of this terrible act but I hope the families do find some solace that a guilty verdict was rendered," he said.

'Brutal act'

Acting deputy attorney general Robert Mueller said the United States would not halt its efforts to convict any others who had been involved in the bombing.

The American tone was echoed in the UK, where Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said Libya must accept responsibility for the act of their official in one of the "most brutal acts of mass murder".

The BBC's diplomatic staff point out that Mr Cook's carefully chosen words where he referred to "the act of their official", as opposed to the state, may open an avenue for progress.

Dr Jim Swire
Dr Jim Swire: Studying judges' opinion
Colonel Gaddafi's regime must also pay compensation to the relatives of the dead, he told the House of Commons.

Mr Cook had a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Colin Powell before making his statement to parliament. Their discussions will continue in Washington next week.

'Rogue leader'

American relatives' spokesman Bert Ammerman, who lost his brother, was forthright: "With Megrahi being found guilty, that is state-sponsored terrorism.

"That leads to the doorstep of Gaddafi. Gaddafi is a coward. He is a rogue leader and Libya is a rogue nation."

UK relatives' spokesman Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed, fainted in court before the verdicts were handed down.

He said he was "going off to study the judges' reasons" for their decisions, in preparation for a news conference on Thursday in London.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

The full Lockerbie opinion on the Scottish Court Service websiteFull verdicts
Lockerbie opinion posted by Scots Court Service
Lockerbie megapuff graphic


Key stories


The trial
See also:

31 Jan 01 | Americas
Cheers and tears of US relatives
31 Jan 01 | Middle East
Lockerbie Libyan heads for freedom
31 Jan 01 | Americas
US relatives press on with suit
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more World stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more World stories