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The BBC's Frank Gardner in Tripoli
"Colonel Gaddafi was both animated and angry"
 real 28k

The BBC's James Robbins
"He has accused Britain and the United States of a terrorist act by holding Al Megrahi in prison"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 6 February, 2001, 09:26 GMT
US stands fast on Libya sanctions
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
Gaddafi: US must pay damages first
Britain and the United States say there is no sign that the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, is ready to fulfil their conditions for lifting sanctions imposed after the Lockerbie bombing.

Colonel Gaddafi on Monday said the Libyan agent convicted in the Lockerbie bombing trial last week was innocent and insisted "Libya was innocent of Lockerbie".


He has not said anything that we are aware of that suggests he is going to accept responsibility

British spokesman

He has dismissed US and British demands for Libya to accept responsibility and pay compensation to the relatives of those killed in the 1988 bombing.

A US State Department spokesman said: ''It's quite clear what he needs to do and ... it's quite clear that he hasn't yet said he's going to do them."

Compensation demands

On behalf of the relatives of the Lockerbie victims, Washington wants Libya to pay $740m (500m) in compensation, or about $3m (2m) for each victim.

Demonstration in Tripoli
Al Megrahi's portrait held up at a demonstration in Libya
Colonel Gaddafi said that "all the victims of the United States, from Vietnam to Tripoli" would have to be paid damages first.

A British spokesman said: ''He has not said anything that we are aware of that suggests he is going to accept responsibility for the action of the Libyan official and confirm that they will pay compensation."

In a speech that lasted nearly three hours on Monday, the Libyan leader said the United States and Britain had blamed his country for political reasons and that the investigation before the trial had not been neutral.

New charge

The comments were his first detailed reaction to the verdict, in which a Libyan man, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, was found guilty of bombing of a Pan Am airliner in which 270 people were killed.


I expected a clear sentence, I did not expect this injustice

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi

Colonel Gaddafi's promises to provide new evidence which would clear Al Megrahi of the bombing did not materialise.

He made only one specific, new charge against the British police who investigated the bombing.

He said that the investigators had planted clothes in the wreckage of the plane that were later crucial in linking Al Megrahi to the crime.

Legal doubts

Colonel Gaddafi highlighted questions raised by various legal experts about the verdict, in some cases quoting them. He went to great lengths to try to disparage the Lockerbie ruling, often quoting from the 80-page document.
The memorial to the victims of the Lockerbie bombing
Lockerbie memorial: The search goes on for the perpetrators

In the statement, delivered in the form of a long and rambling lecture, full of rhetorical flourishes, Colonel Gaddafi characterised the Lockerbie case as a chapter in the struggle between good and evil.

The Libyan leader was speaking in Tripoli in front of a building preserved to show damage caused by the US aerial bombardment of targets in Tripoli and Libya's second city, Benghazi.

He repeatedly pointed at the building behind him, and asked why the victims of the American bombing were not being compensated.

Appeal pending

Mr Gaddafi said that he considered that Al Megrahi, who is in custody in the Netherlands pending an expected appeal, was being held hostage.

"Abdelbaset is innocent; no formal proof has been made against him. We thus consider him abducted and taken hostage to terrorise the Libyan people and to blackmail them even more," Colonel Gaddafi said.

The three Scottish judges who heard the case at the Netherlands-based trial found Al Megrahi's alleged accomplice, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, not guilty.

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The full Lockerbie opinion on the Scottish Court Service websiteFull verdicts
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See also:

02 Feb 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Gaddafi keeps West guessing
05 Feb 01 | Americas
Lockerbie: Long road to legal claim
02 Feb 01 | Middle East
Tripoli in the spotlight
05 Feb 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Gaddafi's revolution
05 Feb 01 | World
Gaddafi: Libya is innocent
01 Feb 01 | World
Libya refuses to accept blame
01 Feb 01 | Media reports
A victory, says Libyan TV
01 Feb 01 | Americas
President Bush's first foreign test
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