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Tuesday, October 19, 1999 Published at 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK


Lockerbie police given access to Libya

The two accused are being held at Camp Zeist

Detectives from Dumfries and Galloway have travelled to Libya for the first time to carry out investigations into the Lockerbie bombing.

They flew to Tripoli on Monday after the Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffi agreed to the visit.

Reevel Alderson reports: "Police are saying little about the visit"
Relatives of the 270 people who died in the 1988 bombing say they are pleased at the development, which comes three months before the trial is due to begin in Holland of the two Libyans accused of the bombing.

A spokesman for the force would only say: "We can confirm that officers of Dumfries and Galloway constabulary are carrying out inquiries in Libya as part of the ongoing air accident investigation. "

Swire 'encouraged'

Two Libyans are currently held at a Dutch air base awaiting a trial which must begin there before 4 February, 2000.

Shortly after they were indicted, Libya was asked to make information available, but until now did not respond.

Jim Swire: "This is good news"
Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter died in the bombing said he was encouraged by the development. It showed there would be a real trial in the Netherlands and that no deal had been done.

"It's likely to be the case that both information could be required from within Libya but also the defence could require information from within Britain or America," he said.

"I think it's good news that the Libyans are saying they will play their part in co-operating with Dumfries and Galloway Police."

Sanctions pressure

BBC Scotland's home affairs correspondent Reevel Alderson says this has been Scotland's biggest ever criminal investigation with huge international connections, but detectives have never before visited Libya itself.

Our correspondent says the trip is likely to increase pressure on Britain and the US further to ease sanctions on Libya, imposed in 1991.

Abdel Baset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi and al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah are being guarded by officers from Dumfries and Galloway Police at the former military base Camp Zeist, 40 miles from Amsterdam.

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

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