Monday, 6 May 2013

Libya delays Lockerbie verdict on Gaddafi ministers

[This is the headline over a report published today by the Agence France Presse news agency.  It reads as follows:]

A Libyan court on Monday postponed its verdict in the case of two officials from ousted dictator Moamer Kadhafi's regime accused of "financial crimes" connected to compensation for the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing.

Abdelati al-Obeidi, a former foreign minister, and Mohamed Belgassem al-Zwai, ex-speaker of parliament [RB: and ambassador in London], were accused of mismanaging public funds in compensating families of victims of the Lockerbie bombing, according to charges read by the judge.

The criminal court in Tripoli postponed the verdict until June 17 "to allow more time to study the file," the judge said.

At a hearing in September, the jailed pair pleaded not guilty to the charges. Their lawyer argued that they had not made any personal gain and had negotiated on behalf of the authorities.

The prosecution has said Obeidi and Zwai were responsible for negotiating settlements with the Lockerbie families and had paid out double the amount originally planned in return for Libya's removal from a US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

In 2003, the Kadhafi regime officially acknowledged responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 that killed 270 people. [RB: No, Libya didn’t. Here is what it actually acknowledged.]  Libya paid 2.7 billion dollars (2.1 billion euros) in compensation to victims' families.

[This blog’s coverage of the proceedings against Messrs Zwai and Obeidi who, in my assessment -- and I met them on many occasions --, were two of the good guys in the Gaddafi regime, can be found here. I am shocked at their appearance in a photograph (last in the series) on the BBC News website.]

1 comment:

  1. The Libyan courts face the same dilemma as the Justice Committee.

    They cannot advance or retreat, but are left holding the hot potato!

    The Court can’t drop the case because that would imply the payments by the old regime were legal and they can’t prosecute because that would imply Libya was not responsible for Lockerbie.

    And no self-respecting Justice Committee can drop PE1370 without losing their credibility and they can’t (drop the matter) by recommending an enquiry because they know the Government would refuse and end the matter!