News and Views [ February 2001 ]

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Wednesday, 28 February, 2001: France's top public prosecutor urged its highest court Tuesday to protect Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi from prosecution for the 1989 bombing of a French DC-10 airliner over Niger. Advocate General Jean-Yves Launay told the court that diplomatic practice required that France reject a bid by one of its own investigating magistrates to bring Qadhafi to trial for ''complicity in murder in relation to a terrorist act.'' In a landmark decision, a French appeals court last October rejected an argument from state prosecutors that Qadhafi enjoyed immunity as a serving head of state and could not be tried in France for the bombing. But in a final appeals hearing before the Cour de Cassation, Launay warned that trying Qadhafi would open a Pandora's box of possible suits against France. The court, which usually follows the advice of the advocate general, said it would announce its decision on March 13. [Reuters]
Wednesday, 28 February, 2001: The three-day 73rd extraordinary session of OAU Council of foreign ministers wound up in Tripoli early Tuesday with the adoption of some 20 decisions on administrative, financial and budgetary matters. The ministers and a multitude of reporters and other participants have left by bus and plane for Sirte, 450 kilometres east of Tripoli. In Sirte, the ministers and other delegations are expected to hold another session, ahead of the Sirte II summit of the Heads of state and government. The latter would take part in the proceedings of the OAU extraordinary summit on the African Union slated for 1 and 2 March. [PANA]
Wednesday, 28 February, 2001: Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is expected to embark on a two-day visit to Libya on Thursday, the Punch newspaper reported on Tuesday. Obasanjo is expected to hold bilateral talks with his Libyan counterpart Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on the issue of the African Union, a statement issued by the Nigerian State House was quoted as saying. The Union project, for which the Libyan leader sponsored a special summit last year, will be submitted to the various African countries to approve. Qadhafi, who was scheduled to visit Nigeria on February 14 this year, had to cancel his tour. [Xinhua]
Tuesday, 27 February, 2001: The Libyan government has filed a suit against the Dong Ah Construction consortium, seeking compensation for US$3.6 billion in damages it says the Korean builder has caused during its work on the Great Waterway project in Libya. Libya's Great Man-made River Agency [GMRA] filed the suit with the southern district court of Tripoli soon after Dong Ah Construction was placed under court receivership late last year. The damage compensation demand includes US$1.09 billion to repair leaks, US$846 million to cover the remaining construction work and US$99 million to compensate for the damage Libya says was done to its honor. If the suit is upheld in the Libyan court, a similar suit will need to be filed in a Korean court before Libya will be able to collect the compensation claiming. [Asia Pulse]
Tuesday, 27 February, 2001: Col. Qadhafi cancelled "30 percent of the arrears of contributions of 10 OAU member countries currently under sanctions by the continental body". Announcing the news on the last day of the Council of Ministers meeting, the Secretary General of the OAU said he had received from Libya a cheque "temporarily and exceptionally bailing out 10 sanctioned countries." As a result those countries will be able to take part fully in the next deliberations of the Syrte II extraordinary Summit. Countries which have benefited from the Libyan leader's generosity are Burundi, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles and Sierra Leone. [PANA]
Monday, 26 February, 2001: The Libyan leader, Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qddafi, has held talks with President Bashar al-Assad during the Syrian leader's first trip to Libya since succeeding his father last year. Libyan radio said the two men discussed the situation in the Arab world and the Palestinian uprising. It said President Assad also expressed support for Libya in opposing the UN sanctions imposed on it after the Lockerbie bombing in 1988. Mr Assad has now flown back to Damascus, where he's expected to meet the U.S. secretary of state, Colin Powell, Monday. [BBC]
Monday, 26 February, 2001: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi heaped praise on African states for supporting him in his struggle against Britain and the U.S. over the Lockerbie bombing, Libyan media reported. African leaders helped ease Libya's isolation in 1998 when they decided at an OAU summit to ignore the U.N. embargo imposed on Libya. "The will of Africa won over the will of the colonialist Western powers and forced them to accept Libyan conditions on the sitting and procedures related to the Lockerbie trial," Qadhafi was quoted as saying. Qadhafi was addressing about 50 foreign ministers and other officials at the start of a four-day meeting of the 53-member Organisation of African Unity in Tripoli on Saturday night. [Reuters]
Sunday, 25 February, 2001: A Libyan envoy said on Saturday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had promised to attend next month's African summit in Libya aimed at declaring an African union. "I obtained a promise from President Mubarak that he will take part in this summit," Mohamed al-Madani told reporters after meeting Mubarak. Al-Madani said Libya hoped regional heavyweight Egypt would throw its weight behind the charter. At least 34 of the 52 Organization of African Unity members must ratify the charter before Qadhafi's ambitious plan to create an African union similar to the European Union can come into force. "Libya has so far obtained the agreement of 26 countries to take part," al-Madani said. [Reuters]
Sunday, 25 February, 2001: Col. Qadhafi opened the 73rd ordinary session of the OAU Council of Ministers in Tripoli Saturday with a call for early ratification of the Constitutive Act of African Union conceived in Sirte in September 1999 and adopted by OAU leaders in July 2000 in Togo. "We cannot wait for years for the Union to go into force. You have to explain to your leaders to facilitate the process of the Union. We do not need to go on a pilgrimage to obtain the decision," Qadhafi told the Ministers, who, apart from their regular annual budgetary and financial sessions, would also prepare the agenda for their leaders' Summit on the African Union in Sirte. [PANA]
Sunday, 25 February, 2001: The Libyan Minister for African Affairs, Dr Ali Triki, has opened a three-day meeting of ambassadors who are preparing a budgetary session for the Council of Ministers of the Organisation of African Unity scheduled for 24-26 February in Tripoli. The ordinary session is usually held in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital and OAU headquarters. This year it was moved "at the last minute" to Libya for "the sake of co-ordination" ahead of the fifth extraordinary OAU Summit to be held in Sirte from 1 to 2 March. The Sirte gathering will focus solely on the proclamation and implementaion of the African Union. [PANA]
Saturday, 24 February, 2001: Libya on Friday suspended its biggest political trial in years to spare Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi potential embarrassment when he hosts a one-day African summit next week, diplomats in Tripoli said. Libya put 331 people on trial last month, including Libyans and immigrant workers mostly from Chad, Ghana, Niger and Nigeria, on charges of stirring up civil strife and attempting to derail Qadhafi's African unity drive. The government blamed Libyans as well as African workers for the violent clashes last September. Officially, around six people were killed in the incidents but immigrants and foreign media said the death toll was much higher. The trial will not now resume until March 25, well after the summit in Sirte on March 2 which officials expect to endorse Qadhafi's ambitious plan to set up an African union modeled on the United States of America. [Reuters]
Saturday, 24 February, 2001: Libya's Khaled Khamees scored twice as Libya tied Togo 3-3 Friday in a qualifying match for the 2002 World Cup. Khalifa al-Maqni scored Libya's other goal. The teams, both 0-2-1, remained tied for last in Group "A" of African qualifying, where only each of the five group winners will advance to the tournament in South Korea and Japan. Cameroon (3-0) leads the group with nine points, followed by Angola (2-1) with six, Zambia (1-1) with three, and Libya and Togo each has one. [AP]
Friday, 23 February, 2001: The Libyan football team is without a coach ahead of their World Cup qualifying group "A" match against Togo this weekend, after Italian coach Eugenio Bersellini resigned early this week due to family reasons. Bersellini has not succeeded to take Libya to any major event or title since he took the job in 1998. [PANA]
Friday, 23 February, 2001: Korea Express Co., which holds a 12% stake in a Libyan waterway project said Tuesday the Libyan government's demand to compensate for the losses related to the project is worthless to even consider, because Dong Ah and Korea Express haven't still received payments on its waterway construction worth more than $1.1 billion. The Libyan government has recently notified the Seoul District Court that Korea Express has to pay around $1.3 billion for the government's losses if Dong Ah Construction can't continue the waterway construction project because of liquidation. Libya is also seeking a similar move on Dong Ah. [Dow Jones]
Friday, 23 February, 2001: Ukraine calls for lifting U.N. sanctions against Libya and Sudan, Deputy Foreign Minister Yelchenko said. "These states fulfilled all conditions which permit to lift sanctions against them in the near future," he told journalists on Thursday. The diplomat noted that the U.N. Security Council intends to discuss this issue in March-April. Yelchenko considered the lifting of sanctions against Iraq as more complicated. But he stressed that Ukraine is ready to vote for lifting them if Iraq fulfills its obligations on disarmament. [ITAR-TASS]
Thursday, 22 February, 2001: Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said Wednesday his country wants to improve its ties with Maghreb countries. Ramadan was speaking on the second day of an official visit to Tunisia as Iraq mounts a diplomatic offensive against US and British air strikes that took place last week. "Iraq is currently engaged in increasingly promoting its economic cooperation," Ramadan was quoted by the official TAP news agency as saying during a working meeting with Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi. The two men also discussed the state of the Arab world, notably the situation in the Palestinian territories and the "need" to end UN sanctions on Libya, TAP said. [AFP]
Wednesday, 21 February, 2001: The 5th extraordinary Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Summit to discuss the African Union billed for March in Sirte, Libya was at the centre of recent discussions in Gaborone, Botswana between OAU secretary general Salim Ahmed Salim and President Festus G. Mogae of Botswana. Salim informed Mogae that 41 countries have signed the constitutive act of the African Union since the OAU summit in Togo in July 2000. He added that 13 of the signatories had ratified the instrument. Mogae, on his part, said that his country had decided to sign the act. [PANA]
Tuesday, 20 February, 2001: Libya has recently informed South Korea that it will make a claim for over US $1.2 billion in compensation for any failure by Dong Ah Construction Co. to proceed with the construction of the Great Manmade Waterway in Libya, a Korean ruling party lawmaker said Sunday. Rep. Lee Yoon-soo of the Millennium Democratic Party said that the Libyan Consturction Minister has sent a letter to his South Korean counterpart to notify that the Libyan government will file a suit with a South Korean court to demand over US $1.2 billion in compensation if Dong Ah cannot continue the construction work. The letter dated Feb. 6 claimed that the Libyan government has the right to file the suit until the end of June, Lee said. [Bernama]
Tuesday, 20 February, 2001: The Korean government has asked a Seoul court to consider placing the ailing Dong Ah Construction into receivership. The move comes in view of a possible diplomatic row with Libya over Dong Ah's failure as prime contractor for Libya's man-made waterway project. Son Hak-rae, senior official of the Construction and Transportation Minister, said Monday that Libya had threatened to terminate its man-made river project. So his ministry had asked a local court to seek to place the ailing company into receivership to prevent a diplomatic issue expected to arise with Libya over the halt to the man-made waterway project. Son said Libya proposed in a letter dated Feb. 6 that Dong Ah and Korea Express would join up to complete the man-made river project, adding that the government would convey its position on Dong Ah's situation to Libya through diplomatic channels. [Asia Pulse]
Tuesday, 20 February, 2001: South African President Mbeki is scheduled to attend a special summit of African leaders in Libya next month, to discuss the replacement of the 53-member Organization of African Unity by the African Union (AU). The special summit, schedule for March 1, will deal with such outstanding issues as the date on which the AU will be officially launched, according to a statement released by South African Foreign Ministry on Monday. A South African diplomatic mission will also be established in Tripoli soon, the statement said. [Xinhua]
Tuesday, 20 February, 2001: Libya has condemned Friday's British-American air raids against Iraq as "a flagrant violation of the United Nations charter" and a "denial of the principles of international law." A communique by the General Popular Committee for African Unity, reasserted Libya's full support and solidarity with Iraq and urged the international community to try and put an end to such aggression. British and American bombers carried out attacks on five targets in Iraq causing some civilian casualties, after accusing Iraq of violating the unilateral "no-fly zone" imposed by Washington and London on Iraqi territory. The military operations were undertaken on grounds that the Iraqis opened fire on British and American fighter planes flying over the no-fly zone, which were imposed without UN approval after the 1991 Gulf war. [PANA]
Monday, 19 February, 2001: Although most African countries have ratified the international Mine Ban Treaty, the continent continues to use landmines more than any other region in the world, a two-day inter-governmental meeting in Bamako, Mali, heard on Thursday. The 1997 treaty bans the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines. "Since this treaty entered into force, antipersonnel mines have been used in more conflicts in Africa than in any other region," said Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Co-Laureate and ICBL Ambassador at the opening of the meeting. Ten African countries that have yet to ratify it are: Central Africa, Comoros, Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Congo (DRC) and Somalia. [Africa News]
Sunday, 18 February, 2001: Middle Eastern states reacted with indignation to the air strikes on Iraq. The following are a selection of quotes: ... Libyan Government statement: "Libya... reiterates its denunciation of this aggression and it reaffirms its support for, and solidarity with, sister Iraq in confronting it." ... Russia and China have both condemned the latest raids by British and US warplanes in Iraq. A senior Russian defence ministry official said the US was "trying to replace the UN Security Council, which constitutes a dangerous tendency that will destabilise an already fragile international situtation." A Chinese representative at the UN said his country opposed "armed intervention by any UN member state under any circumstances against any other nation without the express consent of the Security Council". There was a cool response from France - the other permanent member of the Security Council. [BBC]
Saturday, 17 February, 2001: The U.S. says it will follow evidence on the Lockerbie bombing wherever it leads, even to Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. Families of the victims say they doubt Washington will go after Qadhafi, partly because of a letter written by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 1999 on the urging of the U.S. and Britain assuring Qadhafi that suspects in the trial would not be used to undermine the Libyan regime. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher did not mention Qadhafi by name when asked if Washington wanted him indicted. But he added, "The U.S. government position ... is that we will follow the evidence wherever it leads". Asked again to link this to Qadhafi, he replied, "We will follow the evidence wherever it leads. I think there was a dispute over a letter ... that seemed to imply that we wouldn't go that far. But we've said, quite clearly, we'll go wherever it leads." [Reuters]
Saturday, 17 February, 2001: Nigeria's federal government has explained that disagreement over personal weapons and length of stay were responsible for the cancellation of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's scheduled visit to Nigeria. Dispelling speculations that the cancellation had to do with Qadhafi's request to visit the northern State of Zamfara, government spokesman Jerry Gana, told journalists in Abuja that security officials from both countries had disagreed on the type of personal weapons that would be allowed into Nigeria for the visit. Gana said Nigerian security officials were opposed to a request by the Libyan authorities to come in with some highly- sophisticated weapons, and had explained to their Libyan counterparts that the (Nigeria) security forces were capable of providing safety for Qadhafi in the country. [PANA]

Friday, 16 February, 2001: The United States may have to abandon its trade sanctions against Iran, Iraq and Libya if it wants to avoid future international conflicts over oil, according to a congressionally-sponsored report. "If global oil demand estimated for 2020 is reasonably correct and is to be satisfied, Iran, Iraq, and Libya should by then be producing at their full potential if other supplies have not been developed," said the three-volume study prepared by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Released Wednesday, the report, titled "The Geopolitics of Energy into the 21st Century," examines availability of oil in the next 20 years and attempts to forecast geopolitical implications of the world's growing demand for crude. It said worldwide energy demand was likely to grow more than 50 percent between now and 2020. [AFP]
Thursday, 15 February, 2001: U.N. Security Council members appear willing for now to give the U.S. and Britain time to negotiate with Libya on their outstanding demands before pressing to have U.N. sanctions against Tripoli permanently lifted. The council met behind closed doors for over two hours Tuesday to hear from the U.S. and British ambassadors on their first talks with the Libyan ambassador since a Scottish court convicted a Libyan intelligence agent, Abdel-Basset al-Megrahi, in the Lockerbie bombing. The powerful 15-member council, which includes veto-wielding United States and Britain, took no action. And no action was immediately expected as long as the U.S.-British-Libyan talks progress ``positively and rapidly toward a consensus solution,'' said Tunisian Ambassador Said Ben Mustapha, the current council president. [AP]
Thursday, 15 February, 2001: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has hailed the results of the third summit of the Community of Sahelian-Saharan States (COMESSA), which wound up Tuesday in Khartoum, Sudan. According to Qadhafi, the summit achieved fruitful and positive results not only towards the political and economic integration of member states, but more especially towards the African Union of which he is the brainchild. At a news conference held Tuesday evening in the Sudanese capital, Qadhafi commended the adhesion of five new countries to the community. The five new members are Nigeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Somalia. COMESSA now covers more than half of Africa with more than 300 million people, he noted. [PANA]
Thursday, 15 February, 2001: Conoco Inc. Chairman Archie Dunham said Tuesday he was ``very optimistic'' U.S. President George W. Bush will lift long-standing sanctions against Libya, allowing U.S. oil firms to return to the energy-rich nation. Dunham, also chief executive of the Houston oil firm, expressed hope that the arrival of former Texas oilmen Bush and Cheney to the White House could pave the way for ending the 15-year-old sanctions against Libya. ``I think this administration is more willing to re-look at sanctions policy, which has been a total failure,'' Dunham told reporters on a tour of a refinery installation in eastern Venezuela. [Reuters]
Thursday, 15 February, 2001: Indonesia said Wednesday the U.N. should lift sanctions against Tripoli following the conviction of a Libyan intelligence agent in the Lockerbie bombing. The Indonesian Foreign Ministry said Libya had complied with international demands over the case. "It is therefore now the time for the U.N. to lift completely the sanctions against the Libyan government," the ministry said in a statement. The embargo had caused profound suffering to innocent people, it said. [AP]

Wednesday, 14 February, 2001: The U.N. Security Council is meeting to discuss a request by non-aligned nations to end UN sanctions against Libya. South Africa, current chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, submitted a proposal urging "the immediate and complete lifting of the sanctions" last week. It is not clear whether the council will vote on the request, since two of its five permanent members - Britain and the U.S. - say Libya has not yet met all the conditions for lifting sanctions. Diplomatic sources say 10 of the 15 council members would certainly agree to remove the sanctions if a vote were taken, with two other probables and an abstention. [BBC]
Wednesday, 14 February, 2001: Libya's U.N. ambassador balked Tuesday at U.S. and British demands that Libya accept responsibility for an intelligence agent convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing - a key to having U.N. sanctions lifted. Ambassador Abuzed Dorda made the comments after he met with the U.S. and British ambassadors. Dorda said he was ``optimistic'' that the three sides would reach a settlement on when the Security Council would permanently lift sanctions. He denied that al-Megrahi was a Libyan intelligence agent, and rejected demands that Libya take responsibility for al-Megrahi's actions, as required by U.N. resolutions. ``What's the relation between him and the Libyan intelligence agency? None at all,'' Dorda said. ``He's not an official at all. Nobody could prove that he is an official. When this can be proved, then we will talk about it.'' [AP]
Wednesday, 14 February, 2001: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi late Tuesday cancelled a trip to Nigeria at the last minute after he was refused permission to visit a northern state where Islamic law has been declared, a Nigerian official told AFP. A senior official in the office of Nigerian President Obasanjo told AFP that Qadhafi had been invited to give a speech Wednesday in Abuja on the theme of African unity. But Obasanjo objected when he learned that the Libyan leader had also planned to visit the northern Nigerian state of Zamfara, which last year introduced strict Islamic law. Qadhafi cancelled the trip after he learned he had been refused permission to travel to Zamfara, said the official, who asked not to be named. [AFP]
Wednesday, 14 February, 2001: Leaders from a group of African mainly-desert states ended their summit Tuesday with a joint call for the release of a Libyan convicted last month of the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing. In a resolution adopted at the end of the summit, the 16-member Community of Sahel-Saharan States (COMESSA), founded by Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, called for "the immediate release of Abdel-Basset al-Megrahi, whose imprisonment has no judicial basis." The countries also demanded that "the UN Security Council immediately and completely lift the embargo" on Libya, originally imposed for Tripoli's non-compliance with demands to try two defendants for the bombing. The sanctions were suspended in April 1999, but they still remain in effect. [AFP]
Wednesday, 14 February, 2001: A special envoy of the Libyan government arrived in Dhaka Tuesday on a day's visit to Bangladesh, the official BSS news agency reported. Saad Mujber, a cabinet minister, is expected to hand over a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed from the Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, it said. Mujber's visit comes ahead of a Security Council meeting scheduled later Tuesday in New York to discuss a request by non-aligned nations to end UN sanctions against Libya. Bangladesh is currently a member of the Council. [AFP]
Wednesday, 14 February, 2001: UK relatives of those who died in the Lockerbie disaster have broadly welcomed news that talks are to begin between the British, US and Libyan governments over the lifting of United Nations sanctions. Foreign Office Minister Brian Wilson said the New York talks would focus on how Libya could fulfil the remaining stipulations required by the UN Security Council for sanctions to be lifted. The move comes after Libyan agent Abdel-baset al-Megrahi was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing two weeks ago. It is unlikely that any deal will be agreed between the countries until the outcome of Megrahi's appeal is known. [BBC]

Tuesday, 13 February, 2001: The Libyan sentenced to life in prison for the 1988 Pan Am bombing reaffirmed his innocence and said in an interview published Monday that he is fasting to be closer to God. ``God is my witness that I am innocent, I have never committed any crime and I have no connection to this issue,'' Abdel-Baset al-Megrahi said in an interview with the Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat from his prison in the Netherlands. ``I swear to God that I have never seen any suitcase nor did I put any suitcase (on the plane),'' the newspaper quoted al-Megrahi as saying. Al-Megrahi also challenged the testimony of a Maltese shopkeeper who identified him as the man who purchased the clothes wrapped around the bomb. ``This Maltese man, since his first testimony, said I was 50 years old. At that time I was in my 30s. He said I was black, then he changed his testimony before the court saying I was not black,'' al-Megrahi said. [AP]
Tuesday, 13 February, 2001: A Scottish Labour MP is to call on the UK Government to resume contact with Libya despite the Lockerbie trial verdict. Linlithgow MP Tam Dalyell will use a Commons debate on Tuesday morning to demand that sanctions are lifted. Libyan agent Abdel-Baset al-Megrahi was found guilty of the murders of the 270 victims of the Lockerbie bombing and sentenced to life in prison. He has lodged an appeal against his conviction at the special Scottish court in the Netherlands. His lawyers say there is nothing to prove that he carried out the bombing of Pam Am Flight 103, which exploded above the Scottish town in 1988. And Mr Dalyell agrees with them, saying that he believes Al-Megrahi is innocent. He insists it is time sanctions against Libya are removed. He will use the debate at Westminster to call on ministers to resume contact with the government in Tripoli. The UK Government is limiting its comments until the appeal is concluded. [BBC]
Tuesday, 13 February, 2001: U.S. and British officials will meet with Libyan representatives in New York on Tuesday to discuss what Libya can do to satisfy U.N. resolutions that it take responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, officials said. Under the Security Council resolutions, Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi must take responsibility for the Libyan intelligence agent found guilty last week in the bombing, and must pay compensation to the victims' families. Sanctions imposed in 1992 by the United Nations were temporarily suspended in 1999 when two Libyans were turned over for trial, but the responsibility and compensation conditions must be met before they can be permanently lifted. The resolutions also called for Libya to halt its support of terrorism and cooperate with the Lockerbie trial -- provisions which the United States and Britain say seem to have been sufficiently met. [CNN]
Tuesday, 13 February, 2001: Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said on Sunday that the Islamic Republic of Iran calls for lifting of the U.N. sanctions against Libya. Asefi said that the U.N. sanctions have caused adverse impacts on the conditions of the people in Libya and expressed the hope that lifting the sanctions would help improve the economic situation of the Libyans. He said that the world nations have defied unilateral sanctions being exercised by certain countries and expressed the hope that the International Community would put an end to such measures as the sanctions from the international relations. Russia, China, the League of Arab States and Italy have called for the U.N. sanctions against Libya to be lifted. [IRNA]
Tuesday, 13 February, 2001: The Community of Sahel-Saharan States (COMESSA), a regional group founded in 1998 by Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, started a summit in Khartoum Monday to discuss the Lockerbie trial and economic revival plans for Africa. Five new members, including African giants Nigeria and Egypt, attended the summit as members for the first time, bringing the total number of countries in COMESSA to 16. Other countries attending as members for the first time were Morocco, Tunisia and Somalia, which presented its application for entrance just days before the summit. Previously COMESSA consisted of 11 countries: Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Gambia, Libya, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Sudan. [AFP]

Monday, 12 February, 2001: Jordan's King Abdullah held talks with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Sunday on bilateral cooperation and latest developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Libyan media reported. It is Abdullah's second official visit to Libya since last September. Qadhafi paid a three-day visit to Jordan last October when he offered Libyan help to a multimillion dollar scheme to pump water from the southern Dissi region to Amman. [Reuters]
Monday, 12 February, 2001: South African President Thabo Mbeki reaffirmed Pretoria's support to Libyan leader, Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi for condemning the conviction at the Lockerbie trial, the official JANA news agency reported Sunday. JANA said Mbeki told Qadhafi in a telephone conversation that South Africa calls for "the immediate and permanent lifting of the sanctions imposed on Libya", and that it is done in accordance with international conventions. Furthermore, Mbeki stressed the importance of the proclamation of African Unity, a crucial stage toward the unification of the continent. [PANA]
Monday, 12 February, 2001: The head of the Organisation of African Unity has pledged support for Libya's campaign to have U.N. sanctions lifted in the wake of the Lockerbie trial."There is absolutely no basis whatsoever for the continuation of sanctions against Libya," OAU Secretary-General Salem Salem told reporters in Khartoum on Sunday. "We believe very strongly...that they should be lifted permanently...and we will see what sort of contribution the OAU can make." While the U.S. seems set to maintain its own sanctions on Libya, Britain seems equally determined to press ahead with "business as usual" provided Libya compensates the victims. [Reuters]
Monday, 12 February, 2001: Eleven African leaders will discuss wars raging on the continent, an economic revival plan and the Lockerbie trial when they meet in Khartoum for their summit starting late Monday, officials said. "The leaders will discuss freely the Lockerbie trial and African conflicts," according to the secretary general of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (COMESSA). COMESSA's 11 member countries are Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Gambia, Libya, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Sudan. [AFP]

Sunday, 11 February, 2001: A Libyan court on Saturday postponed for the ninth time the trial of six Bulgarian health workers charged with deliberately infecting hundreds of Libyan children with the HIV virus, Bulgarian state radio said. ``The Libyan People's Court postponed the trial until March 17,'' the radio said. As in previous cases, the delay was granted at the request of the defense. The six medics are charged with intentionally infecting 393 Libyan children with blood products contaminated with HIV in what the indictment says was a bid to destabilize Libya. Eight Libyans and a Palestinian face similar charges. The radio quoted the medics' Libyan lawyer, Othman al-Byzanti, as saying he expected this would be the last delay in the case. Earlier this week Amnesty International said it was concerned over Libya's handling of the case. [Reuters]
Sunday, 11 February, 2001: Fifteen years after their daughter was killed in the United States air raid over Tripoli, Libya, Bassam and Sanyia el-Ghussein are still trying to take the US government to court. Bassam, a Palestinian, and his Lebanese wife were living in Tripoli in April 1986 when US warplanes bombed the city and killed their 18-year-old daughter Raafat. Half a dozen lawyers were hired, but all failed to produce the outcome the family is looking for: an admission by US authorities to the killing of their daughter. “Just a simple admission,” said Ghussein. “Or is it that the US government has a license to kill?” he said. [The Daily Star]
Sunday, 11 February, 2001: The American Muslim Council and the Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy sent a letter to U.S. President Bush congratulating him on becoming the 43rd President of the United States and making some policy recommendations for improving relations with the Muslim World. The letter states that: "As Muslim Americans, along with those who study Islam's role in the world, we want to work with you, and with your administration, to build a more diverse, united, and compassionate America, and to bridge the gap between the U.S. and the Muslim world. "The policy recommendations are related to democratization and economic development in the Muslim world, the Middle East peace process, economic sanctions on Iraq, relations with Iran and Libya, and the India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir. [PR Newswire]

Saturday, 10 February, 2001: Tony Blair and Nelson Mandela are locked in a diplomatic stand-off after the former South African president complained yesterday that Britain had reneged on its undertaking to press for the final lifting of sanctions against Libya. Mr Mandela told The Independent yesterday that Britain and the US had "moved the goalposts" on the issue of lifting sanctions, after he played a vital mediation role with Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi to secure the handover of two Libyan suspects wanted for the Lockerbie bombing. Mr Blair said in a letter to Mr Mandela on Wednesday that sanctions, which were suspended by the UN Security Council in April 1999, would not be applied again. "The condition that Qadhafi must accept responsibility for Lockerbie is totally unacceptable," Mr Mandela insisted yesterday. "As President for five years I know that my intelligence services many times didn't inform me before they took action. Sometimes I approved, sometime I reprimanded them. Unless it's clear that Qadhafi was involved in giving orders it's unfair to act on that basis." [The Independent]
Saturday, 10 February, 2001: South Korea has assured Libya the Seoul government will help a failed local civil engineering firm complete a giant waterway project in Libya, officials said Friday. In a letter sent to Libya Thursday, the construction and transportation ministry vowed to support the completion of the construction, they said. Dong-Ah Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd, a South Korean civil engineering giant, has been involved in the huge man-made river project in Libya, but is now collapsing under a huge debt. "The government assured in the letter to Libya's Great Man-made River Authority that it will do its best to complete the construction project even if Dong-Ah goes bankrupt," a ministry official said. The Libyan authorities had warned on Saturday that it would claim against the Seoul government for any delay in the project. [AFP]
Friday, 9 February, 2001: The Scottish Prison Service denied reports Thursday that the Libyan secret agent convicted of the Lockerbie bombing had gone on hunger strike in his special jail at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. ``He's not on hunger strike,'' a Scottish prison service spokesman told Reuters, although he conceded Abdel-Basset al-Megrahi, 49, might have missed a meal Wednesday, the day his defense lawyers lodged an intention to appeal against conviction for mass murder Wednesday. ``There is a long way between turning down a meal or two and being on hunger strike,'' the spokesman said. Al-Megrahi was sentenced to life imprisonment for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the small Scottish town of Lockerbie, which killed 270 people. Judges recommended he serve a minimum of 20 years in a Scottish prison. His co-accused, Libyan Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima, was acquitted. [Reuters]
Friday, 9 February, 2001: Relatives of the Americans killed in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 lobbied the Bush administration on Thursday to keep up sanctions against Libya and seek the prosecution of leading Libyans. Some proposed tougher measures against Libya, such as a naval blockade or reviving suspended U.N. sanctions, if Libya continues to deny responsibility for planting a bomb on the plane, which blew up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. The Lockerbie relatives came to the Justice and State Departments in Washington on Thursday to hear what line the administration of President George W. Bush plans to take on Libya and to state their own expectations. After a meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell, family members said Powell's words were fine but they would reserve judgement on U.S. actions until after Scottish courts have heard an appeal from the Libyan, Abdel-Basset al-Megrahi. [Reuters]
Friday, 9 February, 2001: The Korean government has asked a court to postpone liquidation of the ailing Dong Ah Construction Industrial Co., which is building a multibillion-dollar waterway in Libya, a government official said Thursday. South Korea feared Dong Ah's liquidation would likely halt its Libya project and damage the international credibility of South Korean construction firms, said Lee Chun-hui, a director general at the Construction and Transportation Ministry. "We have asked the court to postpone its ruling on whether to liquidate Dong Ah and see to it that the Libyan project will be completed even if the company is liquidated," Lee told a National Assembly hearing. Dong Ah, South Korea's fifth-largest builder, was placed under court receivership in November after going bankrupt. On Saturday, a court-appointed auditor recommended that Seoul District Civil Court liquidate the ailing company, citing its bad financial condition. Dong Ah disputed the auditor's report, arguing that it can survive under court receivership. A company under court receivership can have its debts frozen temporarily. [AP]
Friday, 9 February, 2001: Chadian President Idriss Deby, met Wednesday in Tripoli with Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on bilateral and continental issues, officials said. With his host, Deby, who is also Chairman of the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States (SIN-SAD), also reviewed arrangements for the Community's forthcoming third Summit and the OAU's March Summit in Sirte on African Union. Libyan sources said Deby reaffirmed Chad's solidarity with Libya over the Lockerbie affair and the urgent need for the lift of UN sanctions against Tripoli. The Chadian leader called for the release of Libya's Abdel-Basset al-Magrahi, sentenced to life imprisonment in last week's trial over the downing of American Pan Am flight bombing that killed 270 people in 1988 off the Scottish city of Lockerbie. [PANA]
Friday, 9 February, 2001: Malaysia has urged the United Nations Security Council to act on the draft resolution to lift sanctions on Libya as soon as possible. Malaysian Permanent Representative to the UN Datuk Hasmy Agam said it was regrettable that the council, on account of the position of one member of the council, was not prepared to act on the draft resolution tabled by Namibia on behalf of the NAM Caucus last December. He said the time had come for the council to take up the draft resolution and to effect the formal lifting of the sanctions that had been unjustifiably imposed on Libya for a crime that the Libyan people had not committed or even accused of committing. [Bernama]
Friday, 9 February, 2001: The Libyan Secretary of State in charge of Co-operation in the African Unity Ministry, Mr. Omar Sharbak, was received in Abidjan, late Tuesday afternoon, by the Ivorian Head of State, President Laurent Gbagbo. Mr. Sharbak told reporters that his discussions with President Gbagbo were in relation to the on-going preparations for the next OAU Syrte (Libya) Summit which will essentially focuss on the "historic proclamation of the African Union Constituent Act". [PANA]
Friday, 9 February, 2001: Namibian President Sam Nujoma arrived in Tripoli late Wednesday for a working visit to Libya. General Mustapha al-Kharroubi met Nujoma on arrival at Maatigua airport. The president was immediately driven to Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's Tripoli residence where he had a first meeting with the Libyan leader focussed on African current events and on strengthening bilateral relations between Libya and Namibia. [PANA]
Thursday, 8 February, 2001: Libyan secret agent Abdel-Basset al-Megrahi has gone on hunger strike after being convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. One of his original lawyers said al-Megrahi had begun refusing food and was "depressed". Al-Megrahi announced on Wednesday he was appealing against his 20-year sentence after being convicted by a Scottish court at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 that killed 270 people. "I have been told by the defence team that he has started a hunger strike," lawyer Stephen Mitchell said. "But the defence team and the doctors are trying to dissuade him and tell him the right course is to pursue his appeal. He is very depressed," said Mitchell, who has kept in contact with al-Megrahi's present legal team. [Sky News]

Wednesday, 7 February, 2001: Libyan anti-riot police have clashed with angry demonstrators trying to break into the British embassy in Tripoli. Tear gas grenades and batons were used to beat back the crowd protesting against last week's verdict in the Lockerbie bombing trial. The demonstration, by thousands of young people, was initially allowed to continue by the authorities. An official at the British embassy told the BBC that no one was hurt at the embassy and that there was no breach of security. A Libyan police officer told Reuters news agency: "People are very angry. They want to storm into the British embassy to express their anger and that's why we were obliged to intervene." Police arrested at least 30 protesters, according to reports. [BBC]
Wednesday, 7 February, 2001: Thousands of Libyans rallied outside the U.N. building and the British Embassy demanding freedom for the man convicted in the Lockerbie trial. A crowd of Libyan protesters outside the U.N. building carried a coffin emblazoned ``American civilization means killing children,'' symbolizing the victims of a 1986 U.S. raid on Libya. Some fought security guards in an attempt to get into the U.N. building. At least seven people who managed to jump over the fence were arrested. Thousands of other protesters also converged on the British Embassy. Police formed a ring around the building to keep protesters away. In both demonstrations, protesters burned American flags and chanted slogans such as ``To hell again with America and Britain!'' and ``We will not forget our martyrs!'' [AP]
Wednesday, 7 February, 2001: The U.S. and Britain presented a unified front on Libya and Iraq on Tuesday as their foreign ministers demanded that Tripoli and Baghdad comply with UN resolutions if they want sanctions lifted. US Secretary of State Colin Powell and British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said Tripoli must accept responsibility for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and pay compensation to the victims. "Libya must fulfill the requirements of the Security Council in full," he said. "Its leadership must accept responsibility for the act of one of its senior intelligence officers, and Libya must pay compensation to the relatives." Powell and Cook told reporters at a joint news conference the UN sanctions would remain until Libya fulfilled its obligations, and Cook moved to quash speculation the two countries were at odds on the matter. [AFP]
Wednesday, 7 February, 2001: Greece Tuesday welcomed the Lockerbie bombing verdict, saying that this decision will help Libya re-enter the international community. In an announcement issued Tuesday, Greek Foreign Ministry said that this decision constitutes an important step in the procedure of equal re-entry of Libya in the international system. It is necessary for all sides to work constructively and in good faith for the completely smooth normalization of relations in the immediate future between Libya and the rest of the world, the ministry said. [Xinhua]
Wednesday, 7 February, 2001: Britain has urged Libya to guarantee the security of its embassy in Tripoli after angry Libyans protesting against the Lockerbie bombing verdict tried to break into its diplomatic mission. A Foreign Office spokeswoman said no staff were hurt in the demonstration and embassy security was not breached. She declined to say if the premises had been damaged. "We made clear to the Libyan authorities the need to ensure the security of our premises was maintained," the spokeswoman said, without elaborating. Libyan riot police fired dozens of tear gas grenades to disperse demonstrators trying to force their way into the embassy premises in central Tripoli on Tuesday. [Reuters]

Ashur Shamis Article in "The Guardian"

Tuesday, 6 February, 2001: Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi failed Monday to produce any new evidence to exonerate a former Libyan intelligence agent convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, despite a promise of revelations so grand they could drive the trial judges to suicide. In a tirade lasting two hours and 15 minutes, followed by a 30-minute news conference, the Libyan leader ridiculed the ``triviality'' of the evidence in the Lockerbie trial, read from published reports by analysts and experts who had expressed skepticism about the verdict and looked for holes in the court's ruling. When eventually asked for the promised information, Qadhafi said what he had read and quoted was the ``evidence that was absent'' in the case against two Libyans. ``The world didn't know about these facts. I refuted the whole case, destroyed it,'' he said. [AP]
Tuesday, 6 February, 2001: The U.S. said Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi failed to meet the conditions for ending U.N. sanctions on Monday when he repeated denials that the Libyan state bore responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing. The U.S. has said that for U.N. sanctions to be lifted permanently, Libya must accept responsibility, pay compensation and reveal everything it knows about the bombing. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: ``The U.N. resolutions all along have established the requirements to pay appropriate compensation and accept responsibility for the actions by the Libyan officials. ``Unfortunately, in the remarks we've seen from Mr. Qadhafi today, we don't see him doing either of those things. It's quite clear what he needs to do and ... it's quite clear that he hasn't yet said he's going to do them.'' [Reuters]
Tuesday, 6 February, 2001: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Monday rejected any compensation to the victims of the Lockerbie bombing without Washington paying in turn for those it has wronged, and proclaimed a Libyan jailed by the Scottish judiciary a "hostage." In a discursive two-hour speech from his former home destroyed by 1986 US air strikes, Qadhafi also charged that US and British intelligence had helped prompt a Scottish court to convict Libyan national Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who he said was innocent. "It's a political verdict," and a "mascarade," said Qadhafi. Asked about the compensation demanded by the US and Britain for the families of the 270 who died in the bombing, the maverick Libyan leader said "all the victims of the United States, from Vietnam to Tripoli" would have to be paid damages first. But Qadhafi called for a settlement of the affair, saying: "We want peace, and the U.S. is interested in finding markets for its products." "As the trial against Abdel-Basset al-Megrahi is political, an accord is always possible. That will avoid a return to the cold war and confrontation," Qadhafi said. [AFP]
Tuesday, 6 February, 2001: Russia said Monday that the end of the Lockerbie bombing trial opened the way for sanctions against Libya to be dropped. The Kremlin expressed that view in a statement and the Foreign Ministry said Russian and Libyan diplomats had consulted each other on the sanctions issue. ``We view with understanding an appeal from the League of Arab Nations to the U.N. to lift sanctions against Libya,'' the Kremlin said in its statement, referring to a call made last week by Arab League chief Esmat Abdel-Meguid. ``We consider that with the ending of the legal process, the prospect emerges of finally lifting sanctions from Tripoli.'' [Reuters]
Monday, 5 February, 2001: Libyans are preparing themselves for new evidence in the Lockerbie case that the country's leader, Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, has promised to reveal on Monday. The Libyan leader says his evidence will prove that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, is innocent of the bombing. He is expected to make his announcement in front of a large gathering of supporters on Monday morning. Correspondents say two possible scenarios are being discussed in Tripoli: Qadhafi will produce evidence that Washington put pressure on the Scottish judges to convict al-Megrahi or that another non-Libyan perpetrator carried out the bombing. However, there is scepticism outside the country that hard evidence will emerge at this late stage. [BBC]
Monday, 5 February, 2001: Doubts are growing about the conviction of one of the Libyans accused in the Lockerbie case, after the architect of the trial expressed reservations about the verdict. Robert Black, the Scottish law professor who devised the format of the trial, said he was "absolutely astounded" that Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi had been found guilty. Mr Black said he believed the prosecution had "a very, very weak circumstantial case" and he was reluctant to believe that Scottish judges would "convict anyone, even a Libyan" on such evidence. The view, published in British newspapers on Sunday, echoes that of some of the families of UK victims of the Lockerbie bombing, who are calling for a public inquiry to find "the truth of who was responsible and what the motive was". [BBC]
Monday, 5 February, 2001: On the eve of revelations Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has promised in the Lockerbie bombing trial, Libya on Sunday denounced the case as a "racist pretext" to prolong nine years of sanctions. Libyans found support for their stand when Robert Black, the Scottish law professor who devised the trial, told a British newspaper the guilty verdict of one of the bombing suspects was based on "very, very weak evidence." "The opinion of this neutral and honest specialist proves that the sentence is a racist pretext dictated by political aims and not based on judicial evidence," a Libyan official told AFP. [AFP]
Monday, 5 February, 2001: The Libyan man acquitted of murder in the Lockerbie trial has been speaking out in his home town of Tripoli. Al-Amin Fhimah told the Arabic satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera that he viewed his release as a gift from God. He said he was convinced that his co-defendant, Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, will soon be released as well. Speaking to a crowd of well-wishers at his house in Tripoli, Mr Fhimah said he sees his acquittal as God's will, and feels no gratitude to the court that freed him. "If it had not been a gift from God, I would have stayed with my colleague. I would have continued the time with him and returned here together," he says. "It's only a matter of time. Soon Abdelbaset will come back home," he adds. [BBC]

Sunday, 4 February, 2001: Three Libyans slashed their throats with razors on Saturday in apparent suicide attempts to protest the conviction of Libyan secret agent Abel-Basset al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie airliner bombing, witnesses said. They were among thousands demonstrating in the center of Tripoli, outside the UN building. A Reuters correspondent saw one young man fall to the ground, blood spurting from his neck. Other witnesses said two other protesters had cut their throats to show their anger at what they called a U.S.-inspired guilty verdict. [Reuters]
Sunday, 4 February, 2001: Two senior officials in Qadhafi's regime - one codenamed Piebald - have given detailed accounts of the plot that led to the Lockerbie bombing and the bombing of a French UTA airliner. Both confirm that Qadhafi demanded the attacks. Codenamed Piebald, he revealed that the bomb plots were orchestrated by Abdullah al-Senussi (right in photo), Qadhafi's brother-in-law. MI6's second source, a member of Qadhafi's inner circle said that Qadhafi told him in 1988 that he had ordered an attack on an American airliner. The existence of the sources was never revealed during the Lockerbie trial, though it was crucial in persuading intelligence chiefs that Libya was behind the attacks. Qadhafi has denied Libyan involvement and has promised to reveal evidence tomorrow of the innocence of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted last week of the Lockerbie bombing. [The Sunday Times]
Sunday, 4 February, 2001: Esmat Abdel-Meguid, secretary general of the Cairo-based Arab League, left Saturday for New York to make efforts to lift the U.N. sanctions on Libya, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported. Abdel-Meguid was expected to meet with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to discuss ways to permanently lift sanctions on Libya following the verdict in the Lockerbie bombing trial. He will also hold talks with the current U.N. Security Council president, Said Ben Mustafa, Tunisia's ambassador to the U.N., to lobby an "immediate and ultimate" end to the nine-year sanctions imposed on Libya. Ben Mustafa said on Friday that the Security Council might convene this month to discuss specifically on the possible removal of U.N. sanctions against Libya in the light of the Lockerbie verdict. [Xinhua]
Sunday, 4 February, 2001: Syrian foreign minister Farouk al-Shara on Friday made a telephone call with the Libyan secretary of External Liaison Abdul-Rahman Shalgam. The Libyan official briefed al-Shara on the evaluation and assessment of the Libyan leadership on the development of the Lockerbie issue following the ruling of the Scottish court. The Syrian minister noted Syria's stand in support of the Libyan position in resisting pressure and blackmailing. He also stressed the need of an immediate lifting of the sanctions imposed on Libya. [ArabicNews]
Sunday, 4 February, 2001: Vietnam has called for the lifting of the nine-year old sanctions imposed against Libya over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Than says with the judgement by a Scottish court of two Libyan defendants accused of involvement in the bombing, Vietnam holds that it's now time to lift sanctions. The UN Security Council suspended but did not lift the sanctions in April 1999 after Libya agreed to hand over the two suspects whose verdict were announced on Wednesday. One suspect was found not guilty and freed, while the other was convicted and sentenced to life in jail. Arab and African states as well as China, Italy and Spain have all called for the sanctions now to be fully lifted, although they are opposed by Britain and the United States. [ABC]
Saturday, 3 February, 2001: The Libyan who was acquitted in the Lockerbie bombing said Friday that he and his co-defendant were subjected to abnormal pressure during the proceedings. Lamen Fhimah did not detail the claim made in an interview on Abu Dhabi Television, but said he would explain it later. He described his experiences at the special Scottish court in the Netherlands as ``not normal.'' Fhimah's co-defendant, Abdel-Basset al-Megrahi, was convicted Wednesday of planting the bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. Fhimah said al-Megrahi will be proven innocent in the coming days. ``He will be able to appeal because what was presented during the trial contained no evidence. They were only suspicions and lies by the American intelligence agency,'' he said. [AP]
Saturday, 3 February, 2001: Libyan mosque preachers and government-controlled newspapers on Friday dismissed the Lockerbie bombing verdict as a political decision orchestrated by the United States and Britain. ``The verdict was a political decision taken under the pressure of the big powers, the United States of America and Great Britain,'' imam Ahmed al-Balazi told hundreds of worshippers at Moulay Mohammed mosque in central Tripoli. ``The Lockerbie verdict is a political verdict in line with the wishes of America and Britain,'' echoed Al-Fajr al-Jadid daily newspaper. At Moulay Mohammed mosque, imam Balazi said ``We ask God to give us justice,'' echoing widespread disappointment among ordinary Libyans about the verdict pronounced in the Netherlands. For Ali Hattab, a 30-year-old teacher, the verdict was dictated by the United States to punish Libya for closing down American military bases in the 1960s. [Reuters]
Saturday, 3 February, 2001: The head of a Libyan group representing victims of a U.S.-NATO bombing of Libya 15 years ago on Friday dismissed proposed claims of up to $10 billion in damages by American families of victims of the Lockerbie bombing. ``The Lockerbie case is not over yet for them to claim compensation,'' said Munir Mohamed Sharmit, secretary of the Families of the Victims of U.S. Aggression Society. ``Until now the court has acquitted one and the second one is still waiting for the appeal,'' he told Reuters. No Libyan government official was immediately available on Friday, a holiday, to react to the American families' decision to sue Libya for up to $10 billion in damages. But Sharmit, saying that Libya ``has had no role in the (Lockerbie) case,'' said the American families of victims ``as human beings had the right to seek compensation from those who caused the damages.'' [Reuters]
Saturday, 3 February, 2001: Salim Ahmed Salim, secretary general of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), has appealed to the United Nations Security Council to immediately lift the sanctions against Libya. Salim made the call on Thursday following the outcome of the trial of the two Libyan nationals in the Lockerbie case, said an OAU press release. He expressed the hope that this would open a new era of normal relations and cooperation between Libya and the world community. The OAU called for a peaceful and just solution to the crisis between Libya, the United States and Britain based on international law, the OAU chief said. [Xinhua]
Saturday, 3 February, 2001: The American families of victims of the Lockerbie air disaster are to sue the Libyan government for up to $10 billion in damages, their lawyer said on Friday. Jim Kreindler told BBC Radio Scotland the conviction of Libyan secret service agent Abdel Basset al-Megrahi for the murder of 270 people over the Scottish town in 1988 gave them sufficient grounds to launch a civil action. "With the conviction of Megrahi and a very detailed explicit finding that he was an agent and employee of the JSO -- an arm of the Libyan Government -- we are in a position to hold Libya responsible as his principal or employer," Kreindler said. "This finding should facilitate our ability to obtain a very large judgement against Libya this year." He said it could involve damages totalling $10 billion. [Reuters]

Friday, 2 February, 2001: Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Thursday warmly embraced a Libyan acquitted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, who returned home shaking his fist in victory and chanting, ``God is great'' before well-wishers. Lamen Fhimah arrived in Libya from the Netherlands on Thursday to a crowd of relatives and friends at Tripoli's airport who chanted ``Justice has triumphed! Down with America.'' Fhimah was then wisked away in a convoy to a residential compound belonging to Qadhafi. There, the Libyan leader hugged Fhimah before delivering a speech in which he said he will ask for compensation for the seven years Libya was under U.N. sanctions. Qadhafi said he will reveal evidence in a speech Monday that will show that Al-Megrahi is innocent. ``When I speak, there will be three choices in front of the judges: either to commit suicide or to resign or to admit the truth,'' Qadhafi said. [AP]
Friday, 2 February, 2001: Libya has indicated it will compensate the victims of the Lockerbie bombing if the conviction against a Libyan secret agent is upheld. Meanwhile the families, who still blame Libyan leader Colonel Qadhafi, are to demand an independent public inquiry. "We will fulfil our duty," Libya's ambassador to Britain, Mohammed Azwai, said. "After the appeal result, at that time we will speak about compensation." "We understand, and we said it before, that if our people are guilty we will pay any compensation at that time but, until that comes, we believe as a legal matter it is still not final." [Sky News]
Friday, 2 February, 2001: Former South African president Nelson Mandela criticised the U.S. and Britain Thursday for not lifting sanctions against Libya, saying they had broken a promise to do so once the Lockerbie suspects were extradited. Mandela played a mediating role in negotiating the agreement under which Libya agreed, in 1998, to hand over two of its nationals for trial in front of a Scottish court. "We expect the West to lead in moral responsibility and not shift the goalposts. Once agreements are not honoured, you are introducing chaos in international affairs," Mandela said. Mandela told journalists in Cape Town that he would discuss the matter with US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a bid to persuade them to honour their countries' commitment. [AFP]
Friday, 2 February, 2001: The Arab League led the call Thursday for a lifting of sanctions on Libya following the verdict in the Lockerbie bombing trial, while the United States and Britain continued to insist that Tripoli first pay compensation to the victims' families. China, Egypt and Spain also voiced support for an end to the sanctions, while France decided on a wait-and-see approach. "The Security Council must take immediate steps to permanently lift the sanctions imposed on Libya," said Esmat Abdel Meguid, secretary general of the 22-member Arab League, which includes Libya. Abdel Meguid said he will study steps to lift the sanctions when he meets next week in New York with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and with the chair of the Security Council, currently Arab League member Tunisia. [AFP]
Friday, 2 February, 2001: Business and diplomatic ties between Italy and Libya are expected to deepen in the wake of Wednesday's conviction of a Libyan for the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing. The trial's resolution after years of mistrust and delay increases pressure on the UN to lift remaining sanctions against Tripoli, Italian officials said, which should in turn pave the way for closer political and trade ties, with other countries as well as between Libya and Italy. ``We're very satisfied that the trial process has ended and that the Libyan authorities have accepted the conclusion,'' an Italian foreign ministry source said. ``There should now be prospects for a complete revocation of U.N. sanctions against Libya and we expect many countries, not just Italy, to continue to deepen their ties,'' he said. [Reuters]
Friday, 2 February, 2001: China called Thursday for the lifting of sanctions against Libya, after a court convicted a Libyan intelligence agent for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao expressed hope that the Scottish court's guilty verdict Wednesday against Abdel Basset al-Megrahi "will be helpful in the final settlement of the case in a proper way." "We also hope the international community could make further efforts to completely lift sanctions on Libya, so that regional peace and stability could be achieved," Zhu said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua News Agency. [AP]

The Lockerbie Trial Verdict

The Lockerbie Trial Proceedings - 31 January, 2001

Thursday, 1 February, 2001: France's highest court will convene this month to decide whether Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi can be prosecuted for the bombing of a French airliner in 1989, judicial officials said Wednesday. The court on Feb. 27 will hear an appeal of a decision to allow an anti-terrorism judge to investigate allegations that Qadhafi had a personal role in the bombing, which killed 170 people. Six Libyans convicted in 1999 were sentenced to life in prison, but have never been extradited to France to serve their terms. Libya did agree to the court order to transfer $33 million to France to compensate the victims. [AP]
Thursday, 1 February, 2001: The Libyan Government has said it will never accept responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing, following the conviction of an alleged Libyan agent for the attack. Libya has called for the immediate lifting of sanctions imposed by the United Nations over the bombing. Asked by the BBC if Libya will accept responsibility, Libya's foreign minister, Abdel-Rahman Shalgam, replied: "Never". Libya is demanding compensation of its own, for the damage caused by the sanctions, which were imposed by the UN in 1992. [BBC]
Thursday, 1 February, 2001: The French foreign ministry on Wednesday hailed the verdict of a Scottish court in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, and said France hoped to expand economic ties with Libya now that "justice has been done." "The UN Security Council in April 1999 lifted sanctions against Libya after it agreed to hand over the two suspects in the trial." "This paved the way for the gradual normalization of relations between France and Libya, especially in the economic and technical sectors." "France hopes that this process will continue," the spokesman said. [AFP]
Thursday, 1 February, 2001: A Libyan court has resumed the trial of more than three-hundred Libyans and African immigrants accused of involvement in inter-communal riots last September. The Libyan authorities said that only a few immigrants were killed in the riots, but other reports said that more than one hundred black Africans died, including nationals of Chad, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan. More than thirty-thousand immigrants are reported to have fled Libya as a result. Correspondents say the clashes were a huge embarrassment for the Libyan leader, Colonel Qadhafi, and probably spelled the end of his pan-African policy. [BBC]
Thursday, 1 February, 2001: The U.S. set out four steps the Libyan government must take to take responsibility for its actions. ``The government of Libya must take responsibility for the action of Libyan officials,'' State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told a regular briefing. ``That means revealing everything they know about the Lockerbie bombing, paying reparations, a clear declaration acknowledging responsibility for the actions of the Libyan officials and clear, unambiguous actions which demonstrate the Libyan government understands its responsibility.'' Boucher said Washington was consulting other countries to flesh out these demands and that U.S. and British officials would meet soon with a Libyan official to discuss them. [Reuters]
Thursday, 1 February, 2001: Britain's wary engagement with Libya will not be broken by the conviction of a Libyan man for the Lockerbie airliner bombing, analysts said. They said both countries, which restored diplomatic relations in 1999, wanted to move beyond confrontation to a cautious cooperation. "They will get on with business as usual," said George Joffe, a North Africa specialist at London's School of Oriental and African Studies. [Reuters]
Thursday, 1 February, 2001: The White House welcomed the Lockerbie trial verdict as a "victory" for international justice but said UN sanctions against Libya would remain in place. Sanctions would be removed only when Libya had paid compensation to victims' families and accepted responsibility for the bombing, the White House said in a statement. The U.S. and Britain "have made clear to the government of Libya that the delivery of a verdict against the suspects ... does not in itself signify an end to UN sanctions against Libya." UN Security Council Resolutions "call on Libya to satisfy certain requirements, including compensation to the victims families and the acceptance of resposibility for this act of terrorism, before sanctions will be removed." [AFP]
Thursday, 1 February, 2001: U.S. President George W. Bush applauded the conviction of one Libyan found guilty of murdering 270 people in the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing, and said the government of Libya must take responsibility for the attack. "I appreciate so very much that the Scottish court has made a decision and convicted a member of the Libyan intelligence service for the 1988 bombing," Bush told reporters at the White House. "The U.S. government will continue to pressure Libya to accept responsibility for this act and to compensate the families." [Reuters]
Thursday, 1 February, 2001: Libya is being pressed to accept responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing after one of its intelligence officers was convicted by a Scottish court in the Netherlands. The U.S., UK and relatives of the 270 people who died in the 1988 atrocity insist Libya should meet in full the requirements of the United Nations Security Council. Libya's United Nations envoy Abuzaid Dorda flatly denied that there had been any state collusion. He argued that Al-Megrahi and Fhimah had been tried as individuals. "When the prosecutors dropped two of their accusations which concerned conspiracy, that means by the definition of Scotch (sic) lawyersand law experts, that Libya as a state has nothing to do with that," he said. But he accepted that Libya would honour any financial penalties assessed as the result of civil action in Scottish courts. [BBC]
Thursday, 1 February, 2001: Libya is being called on to accept responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am flight 103 and to pay compensation to the relatives of those who died. UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons that sanctions would not be lifted against Libya until it met both demands. The foreign secretary said Libya was required to accept responsibility and pay compensation under the terms of a UN Security Council resolution. "It is in Libya's own interest to be seen to be cooperating fully with the resolution of the UN Security Council. "Libyan leaders need to take every opportunity to prove to the international community that they have definitively renounced terrorism and will abide by international law." [BBC]
Thursday, 1 February, 2001: The Libyan man cleared of the Lockerbie airliner bombing has left the trial site in the Netherlands at the start of his journey home. Al-Amin Fhimah was driven from Camp Zeist under police escort to an undisclosed location. "He will be taken to a place in the Netherlands that we are keeping secret," a Dutch Justice Ministry spokesman told the French news agency AFP in The Hague. His co-accused, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, remains behind bars pending the outcome of an appeal against his life sentence for murder. Mr Fhimah said his final farewells to Al-Megrahi and his legal team in the afternoon. He is expected shortly to be returned to Libya on a special flight. [BBC]
Thursday, 1 February, 2001: Civil lawsuits accusing Libya of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988 will resume immediately now that a criminal trial has led to a murder conviction for one of two suspected Libyan agents, lawyers for the plaintiffs said on Wednesday. The U.S. lawsuits on behalf of most relatives of the 270 people killed in the bombing over the village of Lockerbie, Scotland had been on hold during the nine-month criminal trial in a special Scottish court in the Netherlands. Some 189 of the victims were Americans. [Reuters]
Thursday, 1 February, 2001: The removal of UN sanctions against Libya is likely to be a lengthy process, Britian's representative to the UN said Wednesday. Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said Libya must meet several conditions, in particular accepting official responsibility for the 1988 bombing of PanAm flight 103, and paying compensation to the families of the 270 victims. Greenstock was speaking to reporters before briefing other members of the Security Council on Britain's reaction to the conviction of one of two Libyan suspects and acquittal of the other. In Tripoli, the foreign ministry said: "Now that the verdict has been pronounced, Libya demands the immediate lifting of the sanctions." [AFP]
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