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"The story here is not over"
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Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 09:08 GMT
Lockerbie families fight on
It is 12 years since Pan Am flight 103 fell on Lockerbie
The search for the truth about who was behind the 1988 Lockerbie bombing is set to enter a new phase, a day after the conviction of a Libyan intelligence officer for the crime.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, 48, was sentenced by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands to at least 20 years imprisonment for the murder of the 270 people who died in the attack.

His co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was judged not guilty.

American relatives of the victims say they can now raise a $10bn civil action against the Libyan Government, which they blame for ordering the atrocity.

Dr Jim Swire
Dr Jim Swire: Wants public inquiry
Dr Jim Swire and Reverend John Mosey, who represent UK victims' families, are to launch a new campaign at a media conference on Thursday, calling for a full public inquiry into the disaster.

A timetable is being drawn up by US and UK political leaders to decide the next move in the diplomatic battle with Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi.

Both countries have insisted that United Nations sanctions against Libya will not be lifted entirely until it accepts responsibility for the bombing and pays out compensation to the families of the bereaved.

Differing reactions

There have been different reactions from senior Libyan politicians and diplomats.

Asked by the BBC if Libya would accept responsibility, Libya Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgam replied: "Never".

But in another BBC interview, Libya's ambassador to Britain did not rule out such a response to the two conditions.

Protests in Tripoli
There were protests in Tripoli
A meeting is expected to take place next week in New York between US and Libyan officials to spell out exactly what Tripoli must do to get sanctions lifted.

In the Libyan capital Tripoli, the verdicts were followed by public demonstrations against the Lockerbie trial and the West.

Scotland's senior law officer, the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC, is to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday afternoon.

Appeal planned

Megrahi is planning an appeal against the conviction.

This procedure is expected to take between three to six months to come to court. It would be heard at Camp Zeist, where a former Netherlands army camp has been turned into a part of Scotland for the duration of the trial.

The hearing would be in front of five Scottish judges.

Barlinnie sign
Megrahi may end up in Scotland
If the appeal fails, or if Megrahi decides not to contest the court's decision, he will be taken to Scotland to serve his sentence.

His final destination has not been confirmed, although Glasgow's Barlinnie Prison is the jail most likely to house him.

Mr Fhimah, on the other hand, has been handed over to the United Nations before returning to his home country.

Fhimah freed

Shortly after 1700 GMT on Wednesday he swept out of Camp Zeist in a police convoy, en route to a secure site in the Netherlands.

The two men have been in custody together since they handed themselves over to Scottish police on 5 April 1999.

Washington and London have welcomed the conviction of one of the two Libyan accused, but stressed that this was not the end of the matter.

Robin Cook
Robin Cook: Restated demands
In an interview with the BBC on Thursday, UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook restated the two governments' determination to maintain sanctions until Libya complied with United Nations Security Council resolutions.

"That means that they have to accept responsibility for the appalling mass murder and destruction of Pan Am 103 and they also have to pay compensation to the relatives," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

He was speaking after an interview on the same programme with Libya's ambassador to Britain.

'Fair hearing'

Mr Cook said he noted that the ambassador had not ruled out taking these further steps.

"What he was saying is it would have to wait until the appeal is discharged," he went on.

"If Megrahi chooses to appeal, he will of course have a fair hearing as he has already had a fair trial. but in the event of the guilty verdict standing, Libya has to accept that it must take these two further steps."

This was echoed Washington by President George W Bush, who said the US would continue to press for Libya to satisfy all UN Security Council resolutions.

'Victory for justice'

"I want to assure the families and victims the United States government will continue to pressure Libya to accept responsibility for the 1988 terrorist bombing," he said.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the verdict a "victory for justice," but made no mention of the sanctions.

"I hope that with this verdict the process of healing can begin, and the relatives can move on with their lives," Mr Annan said.

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The trial
See also:

01 Feb 01 | World
Libya refuses to accept blame
31 Jan 01 | Americas
Cheers and tears of US relatives
31 Jan 01 | Europe
Analysis: The whole story?
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