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Tuesday, November 18, 1997 Published at 13:51 GMT


Berlin bomb trial opens

La Belle discotheque: destroyed by the blast eleven years ago

Five people have gone on trial in Berlin accused of involvement in the bombing of the La Belle discotheque in West Berlin in April 1986.

Two of the accused are German, two Lebanese and the other a Libyan.

[ image: Tripoli 1986: air strikes ordered]
Tripoli 1986: air strikes ordered
Three people were killed in the attack, including two American servicemen. More than 200 were injured. The United States blamed Libya for the attack and ordered air strikes on the Libyan capital, Tripoli, 10 days later.

The case has taken 11 years to come to trial. Prosecutors in Berlin only started to make real progress in their investigations after the collapse of the communist regime in East Germany in 1989.

Crucial evidence was discovered, when the archives of the East German secret police were opened.

[ image: Five people accused]
Five people accused
State Prosecutors have said they suspect the involvement of the Libyan government in the attack.

This was the view held at the time by the Reagan administration. US official said they had gained conclusive evidence that Libya was to blame, after intercepting radio transmissions between the Libyan mission in east Berlin and Tripoli.

In the aftermath of the bombing tensions between the United States and Libya escalated, culminating in US air strikes. According to reports this week, legal responsibility for the attack may not end with the trial in Berlin.

[ image: Victims could be compensated]
Victims could be compensated
According to a German newspaper, some victims of the bombing are now preparing a case against the state of Libya itself. Last year, the United States introduced legislation that allows victims to claim compensation from states described by Washington as 'sponsors of international terrorism'.

Observers believe the victims could be compensated from money in Libyan bank accounts that have been frozen in the United States since 1993.

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Internet Links

US State Department report global on terrorism 1996

German Government

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