Sunday, 1 March 2015

Arab reaction to World Court Lockerbie judgement in favour of Libya

[The following are two items dated 1 March 1998, taken from The Pan Am 103 Crash Website which was edited by Safia Aoude:]

Cairo, 1 March 1998: The head of the Arab League on Saturday welcomed the International Court of Justice decision that it had jurisdiction in Libya's dispute with Britain and the United States over a 1988 airliner bombing. "This declaration from the court affirms the sound Arab position that calls for the trial to be in a neutral country,'' said a statement by Secretary-General Esmat Abdel-Meguid. Separately, Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa told reporters that the procedural move was an "important step.''

The Libyan foreign minister, Umar Mustafa al-Muntassir, held talks in Cairo on Sunday with Arab League Secretary General Esmat Abdel Meguid to discuss what action to take within the United Nations Security Council on the Lockerbie crisis after the International Court of Justice judgment that it could decide where the two Lockerbie suspects should be tried (...)

Meguid said the meeting would be followed "by intensive consultations and meetings until the type of future action towards the settlement of this international crisis is defined."

"Legally speaking, the ICJ ruling pronouncing its jurisdiction to hear Libyan complaints against Britain is a major development," Meguid was quoted as saying. "It means that the Libyan request was honoured, while the British and US rejection was turned down."

Al Muntasir said the meeting was aimed at coordinating the Arab League-Libya stand over recent developments. "A comprehensive Libyan plan was amended to conform to these developments," he said, adding that he had discussed the amendments with the secretary general. He expressed the hope that Libya's coordination with the Arab League, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) would help achieve a unified international stand against "the injustices Libya was suffering within the UN Security Council as well as outside it."
Tripoli, 1 March 1998: The lawyer of the two Libyan suspects wanted in the Lockerbie bombing said Saturday he still backed a trial in a neutral country even though a ruling by the International Court of Justice was a step toward confirming Libya's jurisdiction. "It is a ruling in the right direction...and I am almost certain that the final ruling will be in line with the 1971 Montreal convention which means that Libya's judiciary is competent to hear the case and is right to refuse to hand over the suspects,'' Ibrahim Legwell, lawyer of the two suspects, told Reuters by telephone from Tripoli.

"It is our interest and that of the families of the bombing victims that there be a trial. That's why we support a neutral venue,'' he said. “We had rejected to hand over the two suspects to the United States or Britain because it was unlawful and also we were certain that they wouldn't get a fair trial there. We know that a trial in Libya would also be suspect. The reasonable solution is a trial in a neutral country,” he said.

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