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Clare Connolly - Lockerbie trial briefing unit
"Trial will create history"
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Friday, 19 November, 1999, 08:30 GMT
Lockerbie trial judges named
Camp Zeist
The men are being held at Camp Zeist
The three Scottish judges who will hear the trial of the two men accused of the Lockerbie bombing have been appointed.

They are Lord Sutherland, Lord Coulsfield and Lord MacLean.

Lord Sutherland has been nominated presiding judge and an additional judge, Lord Abernethy, has also been appointed to participate in deliberations and act as a substitute if necessary.

The trial of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah's is scheduled to begin on 2 February at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands.

Questions of law

The trial will take place without a jury, but the court will have the same powers, authorities and jurisdiction which it would have had if it had been sitting with a jury in Scotland.

Questions of law that arise will be determined according to the votes of the majority of the members of the court, including the presiding judge.

Cockpit scene
Wreckage was spread for miles
At the end of the trial the court will retire to consider its verdict which will also be determined by a majority.

The verdict will be delivered in open court by the presiding judge.

A preliminary hearing in the case will call at the High Court in Edinburgh on 22 November before Lord Sutherland.

The two accused have elected not to attend and will therefore not be present during this hearing.

More than 1,000 witnesses have been listed to appear at the trial next year.

Clare Connolly, from the Lockerbie trial briefing unit at Glasgow University, said: "It will create legal history because it's the largest mass murder trial there has ever been in Scotland.

"It's also unique because it's conducted before three judges without a jury.

"Perhaps also because of the international interest, we may see our contempt of court rules, which are fairly strict, applying to international news organisations if they breach those rules."

The two men are accused of conspiracy and murder following the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103, which claimed 270 lives.

Intelligence services

They are being held at Camp Zeist temporary detention centre in the Netherlands.

The charge states that the two men were members of the Libyan Intelligence Services and conspired, along with others, to destroy Pan Am flight 103 and murder those on board and 11 people in the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

It has been estimated that the trial, which is due to start on 2 February 2000, could last up to a year and will be heard by three judges, sitting without a jury, under Scots law.

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See also:

29 Oct 99 | World
Lockerbie charges in full
18 Nov 99 | Scotland
Lockerbie judges' biographies
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