Libya accepts responsibility for Lockerbie bombing

30 April 2003
Libya's Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdelrahman Shalqam on 29 April said that Tripoli had accepted responsibility for the 1988 bombing of PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbie and would pay compensation to the victims. The move appears to fulfil the conditions laid down by the US for the lifting of sanctions against Libya. 'We have taken on the responsibility for this case on the basis of the international law which states that the state takes on responsibility for what its employees do,' said Shalqam. It is a formula that has been mooted before, whereby the Libyan government accepts responsibility for Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the convicted bomber, on the grounds that he was a national working for Libyan Airlines, while not admitting any government involvement (MEED 9:8:02). Washington has yet to comment on whether the wording of the statement is acceptable.

Shalqam also said that an agreement had been concluded in March between Libya and lawyers representing the victims of the bombing, whereby each of 270 families would receive $10 million in compensation. These would be paid in three instalments. The first, of $4 million, would be dispensed on the lifting of UN sanctions - suspended since 1999, when Tripoli handed over the bombing suspects to a Scottish court. A second instalment of the same size would be paid on the lifting of US sanctions, and the remainder would be paid when the US removes Libya from its list of states that sponsor terrorism. Washington has two sets of sanctions in place against Libya: the Iran Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) penalises foreign firms investing in these countries while separate sanctions prevent US companies from investing. ILSA was renewed in 2001 for five years, while the national sanctions were extended for a year in January. The four conditions for their being lifted are that Libya renounces terrorism, accepts responsibility for Lockerbie, compensates the victims and shares any information gleaned from the involvement of Libyan agents in terrorist activities.

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