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Friday, July 16, 1999 Published at 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK


Libya pays $31m for plane bombing

Relatives of the victims want Colonel Gaddafi put on trial

Libya has transferred more than 200 million francs ($31m) to compensate the families of 170 people killed in a 1989 bombing of a French airliner over Africa.

The UTA DC-10 exploded on 19 September, 1989 over Niger while on a flight from Brazzaville, Congo, to Paris.

[ image: Col Gaddafi has promised to hand over suspects]
Col Gaddafi has promised to hand over suspects
Debris was scattered over hundreds of kilometres in the Sahara desert.

The payment was ordered by a French court this year.

The transfer of funds was announced by the French Foreign Ministry.

It said the payment expressed "an acknowledgement by the Libyan authorities of the responsibility of their citizens, in accordance with the rulings of French justice".

Africa reporter Caroline Hawley: The bombing happened at a time of heightened tension between France and Libya
In March, a Paris court sentenced six Libyans to life sentences in absentia for placing a bomb on the plane.

The most senior of them is Abdallah Senoussi, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's brother-in-law.

Libya's secret service, which is also accused of blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988.

Gaddafi sued

[ image:  ]
Last month relatives of the victims of the UTA bombing said they had filed a suit against Libyan leader Gaddafi, accusing him of complicity in murder.

The relatives' action group, SOS Attentats, called for Colonel Gaddafi to be prosecuted as an accomplice because of the protection he gave to the suspects.

It said he had failed to hand over those found guilty, despite a promise to do so.

In April, Libya surrendered for trial two men accused of the Lockerbie bombing, which killed 270 people.

The men are accused under Scots law of charges of conspiracy, murder and "contravention of the Aviation Security Act 1982".

No date has been set for the start of the trial to be heard in the Netherlands, but it has been estimated it could last for up to a year.

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