Monday, 20 March 2017

International pressure for neutral venue Lockerbie trial

[What follows is excerpted from a press release issued by the United Nations Security Council on this date in 1998:]

The Security Council this morning heard of a proposal by the League of Arab States aimed at resolving the situation for which the Council had imposed sanctions upon Libya following the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland (...)

The proposal offers three options for the trial of the two Libyan nationals suspected in the Lockerbie bombing -- they could be tried in a neutral country chosen by the Council, at the World Court in The Hague by Scottish judges, or in a special tribunal to be created at The Hague. The League's Observer at the United Nations said the proposal had been formulated in consultation with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Under its resolution 748 (1992) and 883 (1993), the Council imposed a wide range of aerial, arms and diplomatic sanctions on Libya pending its renunciation of terrorism and its action to ensure the appearance of those charged with the Lockerbie bombings before the appropriate courts in the United Kingdom or the United States. (...)
Many speakers today drew attention to two recent decisions by the International Court of Justice on cases submitted by Libya against the United States and United Kingdom. In those cases, Libya held that those countries did not have the right to compel it to surrender the suspects. Libya also argued that the 1971 Montreal Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation authorized Libya to try the suspects itself. The Court found that it had jurisdiction to deal with the merits of the cases, that the Libyan claims were admissible, and that it would take action to consider them.
Addressing the Council, the representative of Libya said his country had been suffering from collective sanctions for the past six years, without a court judgement or a legal basis for them. Like the families of the bombing victims, Libya was anxious to have the two suspects brought to trial in a just and fair court in a neutral country and to uncover the truth.
He said his Government had urged the suspects to appear before a Scottish court, but they had refused on their lawyers' advice, stating they had already been condemned in the United Kingdom and the United States as a result of biased media coverage and official statements. Libya asked that the suspects be treated in the same manner as the American citizen accused in the Oklahoma City bombing, whose trial venue had been transferred from the state where the crime was committed.
The representative of the United States said that the World Court's rulings involved technical, procedural issues and in no way questioned the legality of the Security Council's actions affecting Libya or the merits of the criminal cases against the two accused suspects. It had simply said that the parties must now argue the legal merits of the case. While the case was proceeding, Libya must comply with its obligations under the Council decisions and turn over the two suspects for a fair trial.
The representative of the United Kingdom expressed the hope that the OAU and the Arab League would not be used to undermine the Council's resolutions, and that their influence would eventually be used to bring about Libya's acceptance of international law and justice for the victims. He said an expert mission sent by the Secretary-General had concluded that the Scottish legal system was fair and independent, that the accused would receive a fair trial under the Scottish judicial system, and that their rights would be fully protected during all phases of the trial proceeding in accordance with international standards.

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