Blair asks Libya for Lockerbie suspects

THE PRIME MINISTER yesterday called on Libya to hand over the two suspects involved in the Lockerbie bombing. "The United Nations has made it quite clear now that it supports this way forward," Tony Blair said. It is obviously important that Libya complies.

The noises appear to be welcoming, but they have to be followed by the action of actually delivering up the suspects.

Mr Blair said Britain took the decision to go for the third country option after a lot of debate and hesitation because it was believed it was the "only way" of securing a chance of bringing these people to justice.

The resolution by the Security Council backing the American and British proposal to hold the trial in The Netherlands under Scottish law was backed unanimously.

Mr Blair said he felt particularly felt for the relatives of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing, adding that, "it was important for them to have the possibility, the opportunity, of having those people brought to justice because that is a big part of their continuing anguish."

The United Nations voted yesterday to lift sanctions against Libya once it hands over two of its intelligence agents accused of the Lockerbie bombing.

The response from the Libyan government, however, appeared to be confusing and contradictory. Its UN ambassador, Abuzed Omar Dorda, stated in New York that his country accepted the plan, adding: "We reaffirm this position today, this is a serious position, an irreversible position."

However, later in the day the Tripoli regime criticised the Security Council resolution, stressing it was not committed by an agreement reached between Britain, the United States and The Netherlands and asked instead for direct negotiations with Libya.

The Libyan foreign ministry maintained that crucial talks needed to be held over the guarantee of safety of the two suspects, as well as aspects of the legal procedure, before any progress could be made.

The hard line from Tripoli echoed some of the reservations expressed by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in an interview with the television network CNN in which he claimed that Britain and the US would find ways to make the holding of the trial impossible.

He said: "I think Libya has no objections. But I am not sure America and Britain have the good intention to solve this problem. I am not assured they are serious.

"More details have to be clear. You cannot say give us these two people quickly; they are not tins of fruit. They are human beings.

"Their destiny must be assured. What is the destiny of the suspects if they are convicted or acquitted, and if they take any appeal action."

The Libyan leader went on to " warn" London and Washington not to engage in any "tricks" to sabotage the prospect of a hearing.

The Foreign Office in London stated that overall the prospects of an agreement still looked positive, and said it welcomed the Libyan decision to hand over the two intelligence officers to the judicial process.

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter died in the bombing of the PanAm Flight 103, also welcomed the developments, but said it was "highly unlikely" that that a prosecution would be successful.

He said: "The evidence is very weak. I think it is highly unlikely that any case against the two men would succeed. But we still need this trial to go ahead, it is what we have fought for all these years.

"There is no point, after all these years, in trying to hurry the Libyans and hassle them into a trial if the first thing the defence does at the beginning of the trial is stand up and say they will not get a fair hearing."

British and American bereaved families are split over negotiating with the Libyans, said Dr Swire.

Many of the American families are opposed to any talks being held and "some of them seem to want military strikes against Libya, and have already decided on the guilt of these two men".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner / Caretaker / Storeman

£15500 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Sales - SaaS B2B

£60000 - £120000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This conference call startup i...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital and print design a...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms