Libyans will get fair hearing in Lockerbie trial, says UN report

Click to follow
The two Libyans suspected of the Lockerbie bombing would get a fair trial by jury in Scotland, according to a report by the United Nations, it was announced last night.

But despite the apparent backing of the UN the Libyan authorities have no intention of handing over the suspects, say campaigners.

A Lockerbie support group has also cast doubt on the findings of the UN report and have called for the full details to be made public.

The UN legal experts' opinion follows a fact-finding visit to Scotland earlier this month.

A Crown Office spokesman in Edinburgh said: "The Crown Office welcomes the report of the UN legal experts who, contrary to speculative and ill- informed reports, have concluded that the accused would receive a fair trial under the Scottish judicial system.

"We are particularly pleased to hear that they concluded that a trial by jury would not prejudice the accuseds' right to a free trial.

"Libya should now stop prevaricating and secure the appearance of the accused for trial."

Relatives and campaigners for the 270 people who died when Pam Am 103 was blown up by a terrorist bomb December 1988 called earlier this week for the Government to allow the trial of the two Libyans to be held in a neutral country.

Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP and Lockerbie campaigner, questioned last night the contents of the UN report and has asked for it to be made available in the Commons. He said there were reports that some members of the UN team were unhappy about a trial in Scotland.

He added that it would not matter "a damn" either way because the Libyans would not surrender the two suspects to Britain or the United States. Libya has refused to hand them over despite UN sanctions.

The statement from the Crown Office came the day after relatives of the dead organised a press conference in Edinburgh where Mr Dalyell called for the Lord Advocate to step aside from deciding where the suspects should stand trial.

The event on Sunday was staged to mark the ninth anniversary of the tragedy, in which 270 passengers and Lockerbie residents died when a bomb destroyed the airliner.

Among those taking part were the spokesman for the British relatives, Dr Jim Swire, the Edinburgh University law professor Robert Black, and Dr David Fieldhouse, a GP from Bradford who gave evidence at the fatal accident inquiry.