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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 08:02 GMT 09:02 UK
Gaddafi 'set to pay' for Lockerbie
Memorial site
The victims are remembered in Lockerbie
The leader of Libya is said to be ready to offer "substantial" compensation to the families of those who died in the Lockerbie bombing.

A report in Time magazine, published on Tuesday, says Colonel Gaddafi could be willing to pay as much as $3.5bn (2.4bn).

He has always denied involvement in the attack, but is thought to be keen to strike a deal which would end the UN sanctions on his country.

Colonel Gaddafi
Colonel Gaddafi: Ready to act
The terrorist atrocity in 1988 resulted in the death of 270 people, 259 on board Pan Am 103 and 11 from the small Scottish town of Lockerbie.

Libyan agent Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was found guilty of the bombing and in March he failed to have his murder conviction overturned.

Negotiations

A letter obtained by the magazine to the victims' relatives from a lawyer negotiating with Libyan officials in Paris suggests Col Gaddafi plans to make the deal.

Britain and the US have been involved in talks with Libyan officials since the Lockerbie trial ended last year, to agree a compensation deal for the victims' relatives.

The Libyan leader has already agreed to respect the decision of the Scottish Court in the Netherlands.

Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi
Al-Megrahi: Found guilty of bombing

But observers believe that in return for compensation he will expect a resumption of the oil trade currently banned by US sanctions, a demand which would be opposed in Washington after a recent CIA report claimed Libya was actively seeking weapons of mass destruction.

Jim Swire, whose daughter was killed in the bombing, expressed scepticism about the compensation reports.

He said: "What we are seeing here is essentially a political situation where if Colonel Gaddafi is making these sorts of statements clearly he is seeking to get out from under the cloud of Lockerbie by meeting the requirements imposed on his country by the United Nations.

'Perspective' needed

"We had no part in chasing the UN to call for compensation and we have had no part in these political discussions.

"Therefore the important thing is to keep this new political development in perspective. Our campaign has always been for truth about what happened and justice for our families."

Al Megrahi was found guilty in January 2001 following a trial under Scottish law in the Netherlands and is now serving his sentence at Glasgow's Barlinnie Prison.

The Libyan's appeal against his conviction was quashed by judges at Camp Zeist on 14 March and he was then transferred to Glasgow's Barlinnie Prison.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Shukman
"To get sanctions lifted, Libya must accept the blame and pay up"
Dr Jim Swire, spokesman for UK families, flight 103
"There is no money that can compensate us or anybody else for such losses"
Lockerbie megapuff graphic

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See also:

25 Apr 02 | Scotland
Lockerbie luggage returned
16 Apr 02 | Scotland
Lockerbie trial venue handed back
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