Sunday 30 April 2017

Agreement reached on damages for Lockerbie victims’ families

[What follows is excerpted from an Agence France Presse news agency report published on the Arab News website on this date in 2003:]

Libya will pay $10 million to each of the 270 victims of the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing after accepting civil responsibility for the blast, Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgham told AFP yesterday. “My country has accepted civil responsibility for the actions of its officials in the Lockerbie affair, in conformity with international civil law and the agreement reached in London in March by Libyan, American and British officials,” he said.

Shalgham said full payment was conditional on UN sanctions against Libya being lifted after payment of an initial installment of four million dollars to each victim, and US sanctions after a similar payment.

After payment of the final installment of two million dollars, Libya would ask to be removed from the US list of countries supporting terrorism, he added. Saying that Libyan businessmen had already set up a fund, Shalgham went on, “I hope that the damages will be paid as quickly as possible, perhaps in the coming weeks.”

The total sum of $2.7 billion was the same as US officials said on March 12 Libya had offered as compensation in talks with the United States and Britain. They also said Tripoli was prepared to assume limited responsibility for the downing of Pan Am flight 103, something it has previously refused to do.

Dan Cohen, whose daughter Theodora died in the crash, stressed after a meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns that Washington was insisting that a statement of responsibility came from the Libyan government itself.

He said Libya’s payment was also contingent on individual lawsuits filed against the Libyan government by the families of the victims being dropped, as well as the United Nations and the United States ending sanctions. (...)

United Nations sanctions against Libya were suspended but not lifted after Tripoli handed over the two suspects in the case. The United States has said that UN sanctions cannot be lifted until Libya satisfies all of its requirements under UN Security Council resolutions, including the payment of compensation, an admission of responsibility for the bombing, the disclosure of all relevant information about it and a renunciation of terrorism.

US sanctions, imposed under different terms, would require those steps in addition to moves from Tripoli.

[RB: The Libyan letter acknowledging responsibility (which I played a part in drafting) can be read here.]

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