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Lockerbie Saturday, 20 March, 1999, 01:28 GMT
The trail to trial
Lockerbie
More than 10 years have passed without anyone being brought to trial for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, which killed 270 passengers and people on the ground. After nearly three years of investigations, the UK and US concluded that the evidence pointed to two alleged Libyan agents who had working for Libyan Airlines in Malta.

13 November 1991
The UK and the US charge two Libyans, Abdel Baset el-Megrahi and Lamine Khalifa Fhimah, with the bombing.

27 November 1991
The UK, US and French Governments issue a joint statement calling on the Libyan Government to surrender the suspects for trial.

8 December 1991
Libya says it will try the men itself.

21 January 1992
UN Security Council Resolution 731 orders Libya to surrender the Lockerbie suspects.

23 March 1992
Libya offers to hand suspects over to the Arab League.

31 March 1992
UN Security Council Resolution 748 gives Libya 15 days to hand over the suspects or face a worldwide ban on air travel and arms sales and the closure of Libyan Arab Airline offices.

15 April 1992
UN embargo takes effect.

30 April 1992
Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi says he will not hand the men over but they are free to surrender.

11 November 1993
UN Security Council Resolution 883 repeats the earlier demands and threatens to tighten sanctions.

1 December 1993
Sanctions imposed, including the freezing of Libyan assets in foreign banks and an embargo on oil industry-related equipment.

24 January 1995
British MPs call for a new inquiry after the publication of US intelligence service documents suggesting that Iran and not Libya was behind the bombing.

2 November 1997
Libya says it does not object to Scottish law or Scottish judges, but believes its nationals could not receive a fair trial in Britain.

22 December 1997
A UN report by two legal observers claims the Libyan suspects would receive a fair trial in Scotland.

28 February 1998
The World Court rules that it has authority to settle the Lockerbie legal dispute.

21 March 1998
In a UN Security Council debate China and Russia are among members calling for the immediate lifting of sanctions and a trial to be held in a neutral country.

20 April 1998
A spokesman for the Lockerbie victims, Jim Swire, meets with Colonel Gaddafi who agrees to hand over two suspects for trial by a Scottish judge in a neutral country.

10 June 1998
Organisation of African Unity countries decide to ignore some of the sanctions imposed against Libya by the UN, including the flight ban.

9 July 1998
President Mubarak of Egypt flies into Libya to visit Colonel Gaddafi after seeking permission from the UN.

24 August 1998
Facing the threat of a collapse of sanctions, Britain and the US say the two Libyan suspects can be tried in the Netherlands.

26 August 1998
Libya gives unofficial confirmation that it will accept the proposal but Colonel Gaddafi demands more negotiations before agreeing to hand the men over.

28 August 1998
The UN Security Council unanimously approves the Netherlands trial proposal.

2 September 1998
A Sudanese delegation defies the UN flight ban to attend celebrations marking the anniversary of Colonel Gaddafi's rise to power.

5 September 1998
The President of Niger, Ibrahim Bare Mainassara, flies to Tripoli, ignoring the UN flight ban.

11 September 1998
Libya says it is prepared to accept the suggestion of a trial by a Scottish court in a third country, but seeks clarification on technical and legal details.

16 September 1998
Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo express support for Libya's position on the trial but reject a Libyan request to ignore the UN air embargo.

18 September 1998
A former US Air Force base, 30 kilometres outside of Amsterdam, is chosen as the trial venue.

20 September 1998
Libya says it has reservations about the proposed trial site. The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Laurent Kabila, leaves Libya after defying the UN ban on flights.

30 September 1998
Libya tells the UN General Assembly that it would insist its nationals serving any sentence in either the Netherlands or at home. Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni is the latest African leader to ignore the UN flight ban.

17 October 1998
Britain insists that the Libyan suspects must serve their sentences in Scotland if found guilty.

20 October 1998
Colonel Gaddafi says he has proof that Britain tried to assassinate him.

9 November 1998
A team of Libyan lawyers visits the UN in an attempt to secure a deal to allow the suspects, if found guilty, to serve their sentences in Tripoli or the Netherlands.

29 November 1998
The Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh, flies to Libya for talks with Colonel Gaddafi in violation of the UN air embargo.

2 December 1998
The British government offers reassurances to Libya about the conditions in which two suspects would serve a prison sentence if convicted. An international observer regime to ensure that they were treated properly is promised.

6 December 1998
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan holds "fruitful and positive" talks with Colonel Gaddafi in Tripoli but he refuses to say whether there is any progress.

15 December 1998
The Libyan People's Congress approves plans for a trial of Libyan suspects in a neutral country.

21 December 1998
Relatives of the 270 victims of the bombing gather in Lockerbie to comemorate the 10th anniversary. Other services are held in London and Washington.

22 December 1998
Britain and the US say sanctions will be tightened on Libya if it does not hand over suspects by the end of February. Libya rejects the warning.

3 January 1999
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, on a visit to South Africa, asks President Nelson Mandela to intervene in the Lockerbie case.

13 January 1999
South African and Saudi Arabian envoys hold talks with Colonel Gaddafi.

5 February 1999
Second round of talks between Libya and the South African and Saudi Arabian envoys.

12 February 1999
UK offers to station UN monitors inside the Scottish prison "to guarantee the human rights" of Libyan suspects if found guilty.

13 February 1999
South Africa's envoy, Parks Makahlana, reports "all issues have now been resolved".

27 February 1999
US and UK set a one-month deadline for handover of Libyan suspects. Dr Swire brands it a "provocative intervention just when diplomacy seems to be making progress".

2 March 1999
Colonel Gaddafi indicates a deal is close, saying on Libyan TV: "We are waiting for a final agreement."

6 March 1999
Colonel Gaddafi goes to Egypt, by road, where President Mubarak urges him to hand over Libyan suspects.

10 March 1999
French court sentences six Libyans, including Colonel Gaddafi's brother-in-law, to life imprisoment for the bombing of French UTA airliner which killed 170 people over the Sahara desert in 1989. The men are tried in absentia and are unlikely ever to serve the sentences.

19 March 1999
Libya agrees to hand over the two suspects by 6 April 1999. The date is confirmed in a letter to UN Secretary General.

Links to more Lockerbie stories are at the foot of the page.


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