Libyans back plan for Lockerbie trial

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The Independent Online
THE TRIAL of the two Libyans accused of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing came a step closer yesterday when the Libyan parliament voted to accept a trial in Holland under Scottish law. However, the Libyans said that further unspecified obstacles may yet have to be overcome.

The Foreign Office said the move seemed "mildly encouraging". A spokesman added: "At the moment it is only a Libyan media report. We have to be circumspect unless and until we have a formal response."

British officials said Libya now must make a formal response through the office of the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

Mr Annan said yesterday that he hoped the long deadlock over the two suspects, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimahmay, would soon be ended. "I think they [the Libyans] will move in the right direction," he said.

The UN chief conceded that several details were still missing from the resolution passed in Libya and that he would be seeking clarifications from the Libyan ambassador to the UN. Only then, Mr Annan said, would he report to the Security Council on whether the way was cleared for a trial.

While the Libyan resolution had endorsed the plan to hold the trial in a "neutral territory", there was no mention of the Netherlands. This was the venue chosen by Britain and the United States. Nor did it address the matter of where the two men might serve their sentences. London and Washington insist it should be in Scotland.

The bomb, set on board a Pan Am airliner, killed 270 people.