Monday, 14 November 2016

UK and US accuse Libyans of Lockerbie bombing

[What follows is the text of a report published on the BBC News website on this date in 1991:]

Two Libyan intelligence officers have been accused of masterminding the Lockerbie bombing.

The United States has called on Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi to hand over the two men, Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah.

The men have been indicted in the US on 193 charges, including three which carry the death penalty.

Arrest warrants have also been issued for the two Libyans in Scotland on charges of murder and conspiracy in relation to bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in December 1988.

The plane was en route from London to New York when it exploded over Lockerbie in Scotland, killing all 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground.

President George Bush is to consult British Prime Minister John Major and other world leaders over the next few days to decide the international response.

Both President Bush and Mr Major have refused to rule out military action if Libya fails to hand over the suspects for trial.

However, Libya's ambassador to France, Saeeb Mujber, has said his country would not comply with the indictments.

Mr Mujber told the BBC that surrendering the two men would be to surrender Libya's sovereignty.

Libya had been implicated as an excuse for a military assault, he added.

"'This is a political thing. This is a lynching to bring Libya to its knees," Mr Mujber said.

But the US acting Attorney General, William Barr, said a fragment from the Toshiba radio-cassette recorder which contained the bomb linked the accused to the crime.

"Scientists determined that it was part of the bomb's timing device and traced it to its manufacturer - a Swiss company that had sold it to a high-level Libyan intelligence official," Mr Barr said.

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