Monday 18 April 2016

Libya confirms support for proposed neutral venue trial

[On this date in 1998 Dr Jim Swire and I were in Libya. During our discussions in Cairo on 16 April 1998 at the headquarters of the Arab League, it was suggested that it would be useful for us to make a visit to Tripoli. This we did. What follows is from a press release issued following that visit:]
A meeting to discuss issues arising out of the Lockerbie bombing was held in the premises of the Libyan Foreign Office in Tripoli on the evening of Saturday 18 April 1998. Present were Mr Abdul Ati Obeidi, Under-Secretary of the Libyan Foreign Office; Mr Mohammed Belqassem Zuwiy [or Zwai], Secretary of Justice of Libya; Mr Abuzaid Omar Dorda, Permanent Representative of Libya to the United Nations; Dr Ibrahim Legwell, head of the defence team representing the two Libyan citizens suspected of the bombing; Dr Jim Swire, spokesman for the British relatives group UK Families-Flight 103; and Professor Robert Black QC, Professor of Scots Law in the University of Edinburgh and currently a visiting professor in the Faculty of Law of the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.
At the meeting, discussion focused upon the plan which had been formulated in January 1994 by Professor Black for the establishment of a court to try the suspects which would: operate under the criminal law and procedure of Scotland; have in place of a jury an international panel of judges presided over by a senior Scottish judge; and, sit not in Scotland but in a neutral country such as The Netherlands.
Among the issues discussed were possible methods of appointment of the international panel of judges, and possible arrangements for the transfer of the suspects from Libya for trial and for ensuring their safety and security pending and during the trial.
Dr Legwell confirmed, as he had previously done in January 1994, that his clients agreed to stand trial before such a court if it were established. The representatives of the Libyan Government stated, as they had done in 1994 and on numerous occasions since then, that they would welcome the setting up of such a court and that if it were instituted they would permit their two citizens to stand trial before it and would co-operate in facilitating arrangements for that purpose.
Dr Swire and Prof Black undertook to persist in their efforts to persuade the Government of the United Kingdom to join Libya in accepting this proposal.

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