Wednesday 19 April 2017

Libyan acceptance of neutral venue trial reaffirmed

[What follows is an item headed Breaking of deadlock in Libya? posted on Safia Aoude’s The Pan Am 103 Crash Website and based largely on a report published by the Libyan Jana news agency on this date in 1998:]

Jim Swire held talks in Libya on Saturday with the justice minister about the trial for two suspects in the attack, Libya's official news agency reported on the 19th April. [Dr] Swire, and victims' legal adviser Robert Black met Justice Minister Mohammed Belgasim al-Zuwiy [more often anglicised as Zwai] after arriving in Tripoli.

They discussed suggestions by Swire and Black “concerning reaching ... a fair and just trial of the two suspects in a neutral country, Libya's official news agency, JANA, reported. Swire and Black drove 215 miles from Tunisia to the Libyan capital Saturday, Swire's spokesman, David Ben-Ariyeh [Ben-Aryeah], said in London. Swire told Ben-Ariyeh he was grateful for the “efficient and warm welcome they received.

Black and Swire held talks in Tripoli this week with [the suspects’ lawyer Ibrahim] Legwell and Libyan foreign affairs and justice officials. They also met Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in a bid to gain support for a trial plan formulated by Black. The most important meeting was held with the Libyan lawyer for Fhima and Megrahi in Tripoli, Dr Ibrahim Legwell.

Ibrahim Legwell said he told Scottish lawyer Robert Black and Jim Swire, that his two Libyan clients were ready to stand trial under Scottish law in a neutral country.

We agreed on several basic points and details,” Legwell told Reuters in a telephone interview from the Libyan capital Tripoli. “I confirmed to them, as I have done previously, that my clients would stand for trial before such a court, which will be set not in Scotland nor the United States, but in a neutral country,” he added. “We also agreed that it would be established with an international panel of judges to be agreed upon and presided over by a senior Scottish judge. The court would operate under the criminal law and procedures of Scotland,” he added as well.

We also are very concerned about how to ensure the safety, the security and the rights for our clients pending, during and after the trial,” he said.

Legwell said Libya's Justice Minister Mohamed Belgacem Zwai, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Abdel Ati al-Obeidi, and Libya's representative at the UN, Abouzid Omar Dourda [Dorda], attended part of his meetings with Black and Swire when these issues were discussed.

Zwai said he expected a settlement of the dispute over where to hold the trial. “We expect we will reach a solution that satisfies all parties before the World Court issues its decision,” he told reporters in Cairo late Monday. Black and Swire also met Libyan Foreign Affairs Minister Omar Mustafa al-Montasser in Libya and then Gaddafi Monday at the end of their visit. The Libyan revolutionary leader had in the past said he would support whatever the suspects' lawyers accepted.

Black and Swire left Tripoli Monday for Cairo, where they were to submit their proposal and results of their talks in Tripoli to Arab League Secretary General Esmat Abdel Meguid and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) chief, Salim Ahmed Salim, Legwell said. Zwai met Abdel-Meguid Tuesday, officials in Cairo said. Black and Swire also undertook to persist in their efforts to persuade the British government to join Libya in accepting the proposal, he added.

Legwell said the plan was that if Black's proposal was accepted by Britain, regional groupings such as the Arab League, the OAU and the European Union would submit to the Security Council a text approving the plan ahead of suspending the sanctions.

Jim Swire arrived in Cairo on the eve of the 21st April, and he told Reuters by phone, that Libya had agreed to surrender the two suspects to the Netherlands for trial. “I think the importance probably of what we've done is they (the Libyans) have renewed that undertaking and they have reinforced it, he said. “This (proposal) was given the blessing of the leader subsequently,” Swire said of his 40-minute meeting with Gaddafi.

The problem of course is, will the west set up the court that is required? I don't know what else the Libyan government can do to prove that they mean it when they say they would come.

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