Tuesday 29 November 2022

Libyan tribe urges Prime Minister to release Lockerbie suspect

[What follows is excerpted from a report published yesterday on the Libya Review website:]

The tribe of the Libyan officer, who was previously linked to the Lockerbie case, has called on the Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity (GNU), Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba to “intervene immediately to release him, without restrictions or conditions.”

The Maraima tribe demanded in a statement that Dbaiba “not involve the name of Abu Ajila Masoud in the Lockerbie case again.”

The tribe called for “the release of Abu Ajila after he was kidnapped by an unknown party on the background of the Lockerbie case.” It held the kidnapping party “legally and morally responsible,” and urged “the tribes and the Libyan people to work for Abu Ajila’s release.”

Earlier this month, the Libyan National Security Adviser, Ibrahim Bushnaf warned against deliberately raising the issue of the Lockerbie Case.

In press remarks on Friday, Bushnaf warned that if the Lockerbie case was raised again and criminal investigations were conducted, Libya would enter into decades of lawlessness. (...) Bushnaf’s statements came amid current allegations that Libya could hand over Abu Ajila. Local media reported that Abu Ajila was “kidnapped” by government-affiliated forces, and likely he will be handed over to the US.

“Before US President Donald Trump left the White House, the then US Attorney General, William Barr, raised the (Lockerbie) case. At that time, reports alleged that Barr was calling on the Libyan authorities to extradite Abu Ajila,” Bushnaf said.

On 6 February 2021, Libyan Foreign Minister, Najla Al-Mangoush expressed her willingness to cooperate with the United States to extradite Abu Ajila. She quickly retracted her statements, claiming that she “did not mention that text,” and that she was answering a question about the Lockerbie case.

[An article yesterday on The Reference website contains the following:]

The file of the downing of a passenger plane over Lockerbie in Scotland continues to haunt Libyan authorities.

This is especially true with the (...) Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh government planning to extradite the last defendant in the case to the United States.

Washington had repeatedly called for this extradition, even as Libya had paid tens of billions of dollars in compensation under late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Some Libyans are warning, meanwhile, against reopening the file of the plane.

This, they say, may force Libya to pay new compensation for the families of the victims of the plane downing.

The last defendant in the case, Bouajila Massoud, was kidnapped from his home in Tripoli by militias affiliated with Abdul Ghani al-Kakli [more commonly "Kikli"], a military commander loyal to the Dbeibeh government.

Massoud's kidnappers escorted him to an unknown location.

This development caused widespread anger, and several warnings against reopening this file, which may lead to forcing Libya to pay new compensation to the families of the victims and their countries.

Despite calls for disclosing the place where Massoud is kept and his release, the authorities in Tripoli did not make any response.

They only ruled out plans to negotiate over the Lockerbie file again.

Massoud, a former Libyan intelligence officer, was imprisoned after the downfall of the Gaddafi regime.

He was convicted on charges unrelated to the Lockerbie issue.

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