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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 18:01 GMT
Libya condemns Lockerbie verdict
Lockerbie co-accused Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah celebrated his acquittal with Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi
Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah's acquittal prompted celebration
Libyan officials have denounced the rejection of the Lockerbie appeal, saying the decision was politically motivated.


This shows once again that the United States and Britain threw in their weight to secure a political verdict

Libyan Foreign Ministry
The Libyan foreign ministry said the US and UK had used their influence to ensure the conviction of bomber Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was upheld, whether or not the evidence was there.

Leading Arab lawyers also attacked the decision by the specially convened Scottish court in the Netherlands.

But the US and Britain have welcomed the decision and both called on Libya to comply with United Nations resolutions made following the 1988 bombing.

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi last year celebrated in the street when Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah was acquitted of charges related to the murder of 270 people when Pan Am flight 103 was blown up over Scotland.

'Evidence ignored'

But there was only condemnation when Thursday's ruling was announced at Camp Zeist.

A BBC correspondent said the Libyans called the decision an "insult to Scottish justice".


The completion of the appeal does not end UN sanctions against Libya, but should spur Libya to take quick action to fully comply with the requirements of the UN Security Council

Ari Fleischer

The Libyan Foreign Ministry told the French news agency AFP it remained convinced of the innocence of al-Megrahi.

"The appeal court handed down a political verdict imposed by certain parties... and ignored the new evidence submitted by the defence," the ministry was quoted as saying.

"This shows once again that the United States and Britain threw in their weight to secure a political verdict," it added.

Arabs on trial

Saber Ammar, assistant secretary-general of the Cairo-based Union of Arab Lawyers, said: "This is only a political trial aimed at convicting the Libyan political system."

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi
"Politics, not evidence convicted al-Megrahi"

Mr Ammar, who was in the court at Camp Zeist, said: "This should be the end of these political theatrical approaches and Arab rulers should not accept any trial of Arab citizens outside the Arab world," - a clear reference to al-Qaeda and Taleban prisoners being held by the US at Guantanamo Bay.

Solace for relatives

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the US welcomed the decision to uphold the conviction and expressed hope that it would bring comfort to the relatives of the victims.

"Nothing can undo the suffering this act of terrorism has caused.

"However, we hope that all of those who lost loved-ones in this tragic attack will find some solace in the measure of justice achieved by today's decision," Mr Fleischer said in a statement.

However, he warned that "the completion of the appeal does not end UN sanctions against Libya, but should spur Libya to take quick action to fully comply with the requirements of the UN Security Council."

Sanctions

This message was echoed by the UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, who said Libya should fulfil its international obligations.

"Libya has shown a desire to turn away from international terrorism but I urge the government of Libya to comply fully with the terms of the UN security council resolutions," he said.

UN sanctions were suspended after the suspects were handed over in 1999, but they could be reimposed by the Security Council.

The US extended its own unilateral sanctions against Libya for five years in August 2001.

Lockerbie megapuff graphic

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See also:

14 Mar 02 | World
Lockerbie bomber loses appeal
14 Mar 02 | Europe
The end of a painful process
14 Mar 02 | World
Uncertain future for Camp Zeist
13 Mar 02 | Lockerbie appeal
Lockerbie bill reaches £75m
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