Saturday 29 April 2017

Parliamentary pressure to accept neutral venue trial

[On this date in 1998 Tam Dalyell MP secured his fourteenth adjournment debate on Lockerbie in the House of Commons. What follows is excerpted from his speech in that debate:]

Given the recent travels of Dr Jim Swire of the UK relatives group, accompanied by Professor Black, who had extensive meetings with the League of Arab States, the Organisation of African Unity, the Libyan leader and officials for the two accused, will the Government explain an almost total lack of willingness to communicate with the Libyan Government or to use some kind of communication to get out of the impasse?

I spoke last night to Robert Black, who is visiting Stellenbosch in South Africa. He said that the Libyan Government had stated previously that they would put “no obstacles in the way of their nationals going to trial”. The Libyan Government now say that they "positively welcome" their nationals going to trial in a third country. They have promised to
“facilitate those arrangements and to do everything to achieve that end”. I received a copy of a letter written today by Dr Swire to the Foreign Secretary—I have shown it to senior officials at the Foreign Office, and I apologise for the fact that I was not able to do so earlier. It states that present at the meetings were Mr Abdul Ati Obeidi, Secretary at the Foreign Office, Libya; Mr Zuwiy, Secretary of Justice, Libya; Mr Omar Dorda, the Libyan permanent representative at the United Nations; and, crucially, Dr Ibrahim Legwell, the lawyer representing the two Libyan suspects. The more important point is that they had an endorsing meeting with Colonel Gaddafi. Hitherto, it has been asked, "How do we know with what authority Libyan promises are made?" When the promise is made by Colonel Gaddafi himself, it is high time to accept Libya's assurances in good faith. (...)

Finally, I asked both Dr Swire and Professor Black, "Do you think in your heart of hearts that the Libyans did it or had anything to do with it?" Both replied separately and said, "In our heart of hearts, no, the Libyans were not involved." They are not naive people. That is also my view—and I do not think that I am being naive, either.

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