Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Blair appeals to Mandela over Lockerbie

[What follows is a snippet from the Libya: News and Views website on this date in 1999:]

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an interview published on Sunday he would appeal to South African President Nelson Mandela to persuade Libya to hand over two men suspected of the Lockerbie bombing for trial in the Netherlands. Blair, who starts a four day visit to South Africa on Tuesday, said negotiations between Britain, the United States and Libya over the 1988 airline bombing had reached an impasse. In the interview with the Sunday Business newspaper, he said Mandela had already played a “unique and important” role in trying to resolve the controversy and he would ask the South African leader to intervene again. “I will explain that we have done all that we reasonably can to resolve the impasse over the trial. The UK-US initiative for a trial in the Netherlands has been on the table for four months,” said Blair. “I will appeal to President Mandela to convince the Libyan government that a third country trial should now proceed,” he added. [Reuters]

[RB: My proposal for a neutral venue trial, agreed to by the Libyan government and defence team, had been on the table for four years and seven months before the UK and US proposal was launched. For Tony Blair to complain that Libya had taken four months to consider the UK/US initiative seems somewhat crass.]

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