Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Libya's acceptance of responsibility

[Twelve years ago today Libya reached agreement with the United Kingdom and the United States over the terms of its “acceptance of responsibility” for the Lockerbie bombing and the compensation payable to the families of those who died. The following report is taken from The Guardian website:]

Libya today reached agreement with the United States and Britain to accept civil responsibility for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and compensate victims' relatives, a source close to the talks said.

"History is in the making. A deal could be announced at any moment," the source told the Reuters news agency after US, British and Libyan officials met in London.

Under the arrangement, Libya would compensate families of the 259 passengers and crew killed in the mid-air explosion of the Pan Am flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 and the 11 people killed on the ground.

Tripoli would pay up to £6.2m per victim into a special trust account in return for a series of steps to remove sanctions against it, the source said.

That would make the total value of the settlement roughly £1.68bn if all conditions were met.

The deal would end a lingering dispute between the west and an Arab state shortly before a likely US-led war against Iraq.

A Libyan intelligence agent, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, was convicted of the crime by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands.

[A report on the BBC News website was somewhat more cautious:]

Further talks have taken place aimed at securing agreement on a compensation deal for relatives of those killed in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

The talks in London - the latest in a series - between Britain, the United States and Libya have been aimed at ending UN sanctions imposed on Libya following the atrocity.

The London talks were attended by William Burns, a key member of the US State Department, with responsibility for Middle Eastern Affairs. (...)

United Nations sanctions, currently suspended, can only be lifted completely when Libya complies with four key demands.

Among these is adequate compensation and a deal has already been worked out under which a total of $2.7bn would be paid to relatives of those who died, representing $10m per victim.

But another demand - that Libya accepts responsibility for the atrocity - has so far proved to be a stumbling block.

It is understood Britain agreed the wording of a Libyan statement but the Americans were unhappy.

If an agreement is reached, relatives from both the UK and the US will study its wording.

[The terms ultimately agreed for Libya’s “acceptance of responsibility” can be read here.]


  1. Trust the press to report the document linked in the end as an 'acceptance of responsibility' of participation in the Lockerbie disaster.
    No, trust the press to never having bothered to find it, but instead just report what others say about Libya admitting to be responsible.

  2. The SCCRC had a good look at the wording of that letter and came to the conclusion that it didn't amount to an admission of responsibility. (Though even if it had done, I'm not clear why that would necessarily have been seen as evidence against Megrahi specifically if there was other evidence that exonerated him.)

  3. "The SCCRC had a good look at the wording of that letter..."
    Oh, come on.
    It would be totally absurd if a mere statement about guilt from a political source would have any influence whatsoever on their findings.
    Successful politicians are in the business of saying whatever is beneficial. They are on the same level as a witness receiving money, if not worse.
    It simply does not matter the very least what they say, unless of course backed up with verifiable facts.

    If USA had demanded a 100% clear confession to lift the embargo would Libya really have considered refusing?
    You don't become a Gadaffi if you are irrational and over-emotional.

  4. Nevertheless, part of the SCCRC report deals with their having considered whether that letter should be considered to be a statement of guilt from Gaddafi, and they decided it wasn't. I don't know why they thought it was relevant, but clearly they did.

  5. Well, if they hadn't addressed that issue, someone would have said, "But the Libyans admitted responsibility..."