Ibrahim Legwell, the Libyan heading the men's international legal team, said yesterday that such discussions could herald 'positive steps'. At a news conference, Dr Legwell, flanked by Stephen Mitchell, an English solicitor, and Frank Rubino, the Miami attorney who is representing General Manuel Noriega, the former Panamanian president jailed for drugs offences, said that a trial might take place in Britain, the United States or a third country.
His comments dashed hopes that Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhima would surrender for trial soon. Dr Legwell condemned the Libyan government for urging the men to surrender for trial in Scotland. 'The Libyan government has no right to intervene unless it wants to make a kidnap. We do not work for the Libyan government.'
Emmanuel Mallia, a Maltese member of the legal team, said the threat of tough new United Nations' sanctions against Libya - to be voted on this week - had increased pressure on the men to surrender for trial but their 'human rights' could not be sacrificed because fellow Libyans were suffering.
The appointment of Mr Rubino, who is a trial lawyer, has increased speculation that the men may surrender for trial in the US.