Monitor: All the News of the World - Lockerbie bombing
Opinion on the extradition of two Libyans to the Netherlands for trial under Scottish law
Saturday 10 April 1999
DARK AND dirty American and British secrets as well as Libyan ones may be revealed during this trial. Many questions will arise over the next two years - the time likely to elapse before a verdict is given. There will be much obfuscation and duplicity. Scots should steel themselves for an imperfect outcome to the trial. The suspects may well finally go free and we will still only know part of the truth.
IF THE Libyans are found innocent, or the case is thrown out, things get better for Gaddafi. Based on what is known about the case, this is quite possible, for it seems to depend on the flimsiest of circumstantial evidence. There is, moreover, another plausible suspect: Iran, which in late 1988 was burning with resentment over the allegedly accidental shooting- down of an Iranian civil airliner over the Gulf by the US warship Vincennes. Ayatollah Khomeini had vowed vengeance, and an airliner for an airliner might have seemed an appropriate revenge to the young militants around him.
SANCTIONS AGAINST Libya could have been eased long ago if the accused had surrendered. Indeed, sanctions would never have been imposed if the Libyan government had not supported acts of terrorism against other states, a history that extends back before the Lockerbie bombing. The costs of pursuing the criminals are too high to be quantified but they have had to be paid. If this trial demonstrates that acts of terrorism will be punished the effort will have been worthwhile.
Neue Zuercher Zeitung
WHAT EXACTLY persuaded Tripoli to give way is not clear. The readiness of the British and Americans to have the proceedings against the two alleged terrorists not in Scotland itself but in a Scottish court in the Netherlands was not enough to account for the change of heart. There may be another, unwritten concession behind the hand over: a promise from the British and Americans not to stretch the trial in The Netherlands into a general reckoning of the Libyan secret service and the Gaddafi regime. The clients of the Libyans will remain hidden. Such a renunciation would be detrimental to the court's finding of the truth. No one could talk of anything more than a merely symbolic conclusion to the Lockerbie affair.
Times of India
NOW THAT the two suspects are in Scottish custody on Dutch soil, there is a possibility that the world will get to see whether there is, after all, a genuine case against them. Given the persistent allegations about the Lockerbie bomb having been planted as a result of a sting operation by US intelligence agencies, Washington desperately needs the Libyans to be convicted. Such a verdict would also open the door for more international pressure to be exerted on the Gaddafi government, which would suit Washington. The Scottish judges will be under great pressure; let us hope they are allowed to perform their duty in an objective and professional manner.
THE TRIAL is unlikely to be sensational but will feature a wealth of technical detail and evidence which tax the understanding of the three judges who will hear the case without a jury. If it will be a difficult time for the judges, the presentation of the case by prosecutors will also be far from easy. As Professor Robert Black has reminded us, many of the most important witness statements were gathered a decade ago and there is no guarantee that these witnesses will be traceable today. Yet the trial will go ahead, and for anyone with a belief in the primacy of justice, that will suffice for now.
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