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Wednesday, September 2, 1998 Published at 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK

World: Middle East

Lawyer suggests Lockerbie trial changes

Suspects Lamen Khalifa Fhimah and Abdel Basset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi

The Libyan lawyer of the two suspects accused of the Lockerbie bombing says that if convicted, the men should serve their time in Libya and not in Scotland as originally planned.

BBC's Jeremy Bowen in Tripoli: Dr Legwell wants further modification to the plan
Dr Ibrahim Legwell also said he wanted further guarantees than those outlined in a plan endorsed by the UN Security Council.

Under the plan drawn up by the United States and Britain, the suspects would be tried in the Netherlands by a panel of three Scottish judges according to Scottish law.

If convicted, they would serve their sentences in Scotland.

Britain and the United States have said the plan is non-negotiable.

The plan also provides for the United Nations to suspend sanctions against Libya once the two suspects - Lamen Khalifa Fhimah and Abdel Basset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi - are handed over.

Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, on 21 December 1988, killing 270 people.

Dr Ibrahim Legwell: "We want a fair trial."
Speaking to reporters in his office in Tripoli, Dr Legwell said the legal team that will represent the suspects had not yet been assembled or come to a decision on the plan.

But he said that he wanted more safeguards for the suspects, who are currently under house arrest in Tripoli.

"We cannot deal with this case as an ordinary case," he said.

"This will be one of the largest cases in the World."

[ image: Dr Ibrahim Legwell is studying the UN backed plan and will advise the Lockerbie suspects]
Dr Ibrahim Legwell is studying the UN backed plan and will advise the Lockerbie suspects
Dr Legwell's request for guarantees is similar to that of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gadaffi who has called for talks with the United States and Britain before bringing the men to trial.

Dr Legwell said the suspects would decide for themselves whether they would attend the trial after receiving the opinion of their lawyers.

It is usual though for Gadaffi to have the final word on all matters in Libya.

Arab League delegation

A delegation from the Arab League is travelling to Libya from its headquarters in Cairo to try to reach agreement on arrangements for the handover and trial of the two Libyans.

Since Libya's initial welcoming of the proposal for a trial at the Hague, Colonel Gadaffi has given the impression that he is unlikely to hand over the two men.

In addition to demanding negotiations and guarantees, he has also linked the issue to allegations that British intelligence sponsored a plot to assassinate him two years ago.

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