Monday, 17 June 2013

Lockerbie compensation: Libyan officials acquitted

[This is the headline over a report just published on the BBC News website. In its original form (it has now been slightly expanded), it read as follows:]

Two senior Libyan officials have been acquitted of "squandering public funds" by agreeing to pay $2.7bn (£1.7bn) in compensation to victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

Former Foreign Minister Abdelaaty al-Obeidi [a long-serving member of the Libyan Lockerbie committee] and former General People's Congress head Mohamed al-Zway [a long time ambassador in London] have been on trial since September 2012.

Col Muammar Gaddafi agreed to pay the compensation in 2003.

These are the first verdicts against his officials since he was ousted.

[I am delighted to hear of these acquittals. Between 1993 and 2010 I had numerous dealings with Messrs Obeidi and Zwai over the Lockerbie case.  I found both of them to be straightforward, honest and trustworthy.  They were two of the good guys of the Gaddafi regime, in my view.  The saga of their arrest and trial after the collapse of the old regime can be followed here.

I am saddened to discover the following addition to the BBC’s report made at 16.08:]

State prosecutor Sidiq al-Sour later told journalists that the pair would face separate charges over the "systematic repressive policies practised" by Col Gaddafi's government during the 2011 uprising which toppled him.

He said they would face charges such as forming armed criminal groups, inciting rape and illegally detaining individuals. 

[An Agence France Presse news agency report on the Star Africa website contains the following:]

A Libyan court acquitted two former aides of slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi on Monday of charges connected to the deadly 1988 bombing of a US airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland.

“On behalf of all people, the court decides to acquit Abdelati al-Obeidi and Mohamed Belgassem al-Zwai of all charges against them,” the judge said to shouts of “Long live justice!” from the defendants’ families. (...)

It was unclear if Obeidi, a former foreign minister, and Zwai, ex-parliament speaker, would be released following their acquittal or if there were other charges outstanding.

“We are satisfied that the verdict proves that Libyan justice is transparent and equal,” said Sami, a nephew of Obeidi, as he left the courtroom.

The two men were accused of mismanaging public funds in compensating families of victims of the Lockerbie bombing.

The prosecution had charged that Obeidi and Zwai were responsible for negotiating settlements with the Lockerbie families and had paid out double the amount originally planned. 

[Further clarification can be found in this report from the news agency Reuters and in this report on the Middle East Online website.

I can find no recent information on the criminal proceedings against Abuzed Omar Dorda, another Gaddafi-era official heavily involved in seeking a resolution of the Lockerbie affair.]


  1. Going by the news report, a headline of ‘charges dropped without explanation’ rather than ‘Libyan officials acquitted’ would be a more accurate, because it is not clear that a trial, as opposed to a court appearance, was held!


    MISSION LOCKERBIE, 2013: Thank you very much...

    This is a very good day for Abdulati al-Obeidi + Mohamed al-Zway and also an excellent day for MEBO and the Lockerbie Affair !

    Mr Abdulati welcome to Geneva /Switzerland – Please call – you have my number.

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. webpage: