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BBC Scotland's Reeval Alderson
"It now transpires that most of these documents - some 40,000 pages - have been handed over"
 real 28k

BBC Scotland's Reevel Alderson
"Some papers have been given up"
 real 28k

Monday, 22 November, 1999, 18:17 GMT
Lockerbie defence given papers
270 people died in the crash in December 1988

Prosecutors have handed over to the defence teams vital documents in the case against the two Libyans accused of the Lockerbie bombing.

At a preliminary hearing in Edinburgh, the Crown said two sets of papers had been sent and others demanded by the defence would be passed on within 10 days.

The two men's lawyers were set to argue that had they not received the papers, their clients' human rights would have been breached.

There were suggestions that the "competence and relevance" of the charges would be tested by the defence lawyers at another hearing ahead of the trial's scheduled start date next February.

Neither of the accused - Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi andAl Amin Khalifa Fhimah - was present at the 20-minute hearing.

Sitting at the High Court, Lord Sutherland adjourned the case until 1 December.

Trial in February

The men are to stand trial under Scottish law in Holland before a court of three Scottish judges.

They deny bombing the Pan Am jet which exploded over Lockerbie in December 1988 with the loss of 270 lives.

Defence lawyer, Richard Keen, QC, for Fhimah, told the hearing that material which the Crown had now undertaken to make available had been requested in August.

The hearing was at the High Court in Edinburgh
"We have now had elapsed more than three months before it has been produced. That has had material implications so far as those preparing the defence are concerned," he said.

Among the documents the defence wanted from the Crown were 170 files relating to a German police investigation into Lockerbie, amounting to 40,000 pages.

The information was in three areas - translation of German police documents called the Autumn Leaves files, a statement given by a witness called Abu Talb, and the release of "mutual assistance" or "investigative" files.

He told the court that regarding the first, floppy disks containing the translations of the Autumn Leaves files had been handed over last week and were now being downloaded and printed, and the Abu Talb statements were also handed over last week.

On the third issue - the "mutual assistance" files relating to an investigation by Frankfurt police - the Crown had given an "unequivocal and unqualified" acceptance that these would be handed over.

Specially built court

Lord Sutherland is to preside at the trial in Holland, sitting with Lords Coulsfield and MacLean at a specially built courthouse at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands.

A fourth judge, Lord Abernethy, is to act as reserve in case of illness or death.

The three judges will decide on any point of law and reach a verdict on the two accused men without a jury.

If there are any disputes in law, they can take a majority decision. In line with Scottish law, they can also deliver a majority verdict.

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See also:
18 Nov 99 |  World
Lockerbie trial judges named
29 Oct 99 |  World
Lockerbie witness list exceeds 1,000
29 Oct 99 |  World
Lockerbie charges in full
11 Sep 98 |  UK
UK to 'clarify' Lockerbie trial
19 Aug 99 |  Scotland
Trial aid for Lockerbie families
21 Dec 98 |  UK
'No Lockerbie jail deal'

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