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Forbes McFall reports for BBC Scotland
"Courtroom Number Four is preparing to play its part in the Lockerbie tragedy"
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Wednesday, 3 May, 2000, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
No viewers for trial screening
Dumfries Sheriff Court
Dumfries Sheriff Court has a special relative's centre
It was business as usual at Dumfries Sheriff Court on Wednesday morning, with little evidence that the venue was electronically linked to Scotland's biggest ever murder trial.

The legal proceedings at Camp Zeist, where two Libyan men stand accused of the murder of 270 people in the Lockerbie bombing, were relayed live to two screens in a small courtroom.

The court was one of a number of venues in Britain and the United States chosen to televise the proceedings for the benefit of relatives and those directly affected by the disaster.

Bert Houston
Bert Houston: "Relatives will use it"

However, no-one had turned up at Courtroom Number Four by 1600BST on Wednesday.

Accredited relatives had been invited to use the facility but so far no-one has asked to do so.

This could change, as the trial progresses though, according to Bert Houston, who was one of the first journalists on the scene of the disaster in the nearby town of Lockerbie on the night of 21 December 1988.

He said: "The point is that relatives do visit Lockerbie constantly throughout the summer and they may want to see some of the proceedings.

"The idea is that they come across here, spend a couple of hours or spend all day if they want, watching the proceedings.

Financial assistance

"It's only 12 miles form Lockerbie and I'm quite sure relatives will take advantage of the situation later in the year."

Because it was recognised that not all of the victims' relatives would be able to attend the trial in the Netherlands, it was agreed that special centres should be set up where they could watch a television feed of the proceedings.

Scotland's then Lord Advocate, Lord Hardie, also announced in August last year that financial assistance would be available to those relatives wishing to travel to Camp Zeist for the trial.

The BBC's attempt to publicly broadcast the trial's proceedings was rejected by Scottish judges.

The corporation's case centred on the decision to allow relatives to see encoded pictures of the trial in Dumfries, London, New York and Washington.

But in his judgement, Lord McFadyen said there was a clear distinction between transmitting pictures to remote sites, to allow relatives to watch proceedings and broadcasting to the general public.

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See also:

03 May 00 | World
Lockerbie accused deny murder
02 May 00 | Lockerbie Trial
Relatives' Lockerbie trial doubts
18 Apr 00 | Lockerbie Trial
Doors open on Lockerbie court
18 Apr 00 | Lockerbie Trial
In pictures: Camp Zeist
02 May 00 | Middle East
Libya: From pariah to participant
18 Nov 99 | World
Lockerbie trial judges named
21 Apr 00 | Lockerbie Trial
Flight to disaster
03 May 00 | World
Waiting ends as trial begins
19 Aug 99 | Scotland
Trial aid for Lockerbie families
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