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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 August, 2003, 13:05 GMT 14:05 UK
Q&A: The Lockerbie compensation deal
As the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing prepare for a possible compensation package from Libya, we examine what it means for them - and why it has taken so long.

What is the compensation for?

The $2.7bn (1.7bn) on offer is compensation to the families of the 270 people killed when a bomb exploded on a US airliner as it flew over Lockerbie, in Scotland.

A total of 259 passengers and crew - mostly American - were killed, along with 11 people on the ground.

One Libyan - Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi - was convicted of their murder. Another was cleared.

The Libyan government continued to deny it was behind the 1988 bombing.

Why is Libya taking responsibility now?

It would pave the way for the country to return to the international fold after a decade of isolation and economic hardship caused by sanctions.

After the bombing the UN and US imposed sanctions which have left the north African country an international pariah and a despised state-sponsor of terrorism.

Now its leader, Colonel Gaddafi, who is now over 60, has the chance to play a big role in the future of north Africa and to leave his country in a decent shape.

Have there been previous concessions?

Since the Libyan government took its initial trenchant stance, denying any involvement in the bombing, it has softened its approach.

In 1999 it admitted it bore "general responsibility" for the shooting of Pc Yvonne Fletcher in London four years before the Lockerbie bombing.

Later it handed over the two Lockerbie suspects for trial. The UN lifted some sanctions indefinitely, but a permanent deal depended on a full admission.

What is the deal?

Libya is expected to pay a total of $2.7bn (1.7bn) to the families of the 270 victims in stages.

Around $1bn (675m) would be paid when the UN lifts sanctions against Libya - a vote can be taken now that its government has acknowledged responsibility for the 1988 bombing.

Another $1bn would be released once the US lifted its own sanctions.

The rest would come once the US removes Libya from its list of terror states.

Will everyone accept the money?

Much may depend on how the the wording of the Libyan admission is received.

Lawyers for some of the victims' families said the Libyan Government must admit its own involvement rather than merely blaming an individual Libyan.

In its latest declaration, Libya said: "Libya as a sovereign state has facilitated the bringing to justice of the two suspects charged with the bombing and accepts responsibility for the actions of its officials."

Some relatives say they will not accept payments that allow Libya to be taken off the list of sponsors of terrorism.

They say it is "blood money" and want Libya to prove it has renounced terror.

Is the agreement the end of the matter?

Even if the families of the Lockerbie victims receive the $9.6m (6m) each, not all the relatives will be satisfied.

Some want an independent inquiry into what happened and why the bomb was allowed to be smuggled on board Pan Am flight 103.

A representative of the UK relatives said: "We have had a form of justice. But we have not had anything approaching the truth."


SEE ALSO:
Libya makes claims of opening up
19 May 03  |  Africa
Libya 'to admit Lockerbie guilt'
06 Aug 03  |  Scotland
Country profile: Libya
16 Jul 03  |  Country profiles


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