- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2001

The conviction of a Libyan intelligence agent for bombing a Pan Am flight in 1988 over Scotland proves Libya is guilty of the crime and must pay compensation before sanctions can be lifted, a senior U.S. official said yesterday.
"If a Libyan intelligence agent does something, the Libyan government is responsible," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
The remarks made clear that far from being mollified by the verdict, the United States will continue to seek to punish those who ordered, funded and carried out the bombing.
The U.S. government will follow the evidence "wherever it leads," Mr. Boucher said when asked if the United States would seek action against higher Libyan officials, including its leader, Moammar Gadhafi.
He said Libya must comply with demands contained in four U.N. resolutions before the United States would consider any bid to lift sanctions. Libya must:
Acknowledge responsibility for the bombing.
Disclose all it knows about the bombing.
End support for all terrorist activities.
Pay compensation.
U.S. officials rejected a call by Libyan diplomats for the verdict to bring an end to the Lockerbie affair.
"This does not close the book," a senior U.S. official said to reporters in Washington.
Libya's U.N. ambassador, Abuzed Omar Dorda, said in New York that Libya itself had "suffered from this bombing. All 5 million people [in Libya] were victims [of sanctions] much the same as the families were victims," he told Reuters television.
The United States was talking to all members of the U.N. Security Council yesterday to win their support for keeping in place sanctions imposed on Libya in 1992 and 1993 for its refusal to cooperate with the investigation into the bombing, which killed 270 persons.
China yesterday called for an end to the sanctions, which were suspended in April 1999 after Libya finally sent the two men accused of the bombing to the Netherlands to stand trial before a Scottish tribunal.
"We must take into consideration the cooperation of the Libyan side," said Deputy Chinese Ambassador Shen Guofeng. "The sanctions have been there for quite a few years, and the Libyan people have been suffering for quite some time."
Mr. Boucher said the conviction of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who was judged to be a senior member of the Libyan state Jamahariya Security Organization, indicates Libya is responsible for the bombing.
He would not rule out asking the Security Council to reinstate suspended sanctions on air travel and arms shipments. He also did not rule out seeking compensation to the U.S. government separate from efforts by the families of the victims to sue Libya.
U.S. diplomats met Libyan diplomats at the United Nations last week to warn them that convictions in the Netherlands would not be enough to end the sanctions.
When asked exactly what Libya had to do to "take responsibility" for the bombing, the U.S. official was vague.
"We'll know it when we see it," he said.
The official also said that he did not believe that the man who was acquitted yesterday was innocent. "The court only found reasonable doubt" in his case, the U.S. official said.
Even if U.N. sanctions remain suspended or are lifted, U.S. sanctions imposed since 1979 remain in place, including sanctions under the annual terrorist list, the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act passed by Congress in 1996 and executive orders issued in the 1980s.
Britain also demanded compensation from Libya, and a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair said at least $700 million would be sought.
"We expect the Libyan authorities to take full responsibility for the actions of their official," the spokesman said.
Diplomatic relations between Britain and Libya, broken off in 1984 after the killing of a British policewoman outside Libya's London embassy, were restored two years ago when Libya paid compensation to her family.
Relatives of victims have asked for a public inquiry into all possible theories of who committed the Lockerbie bombing and why, but Mr. Blair's spokesman said he was not sure such an inquiry would add anything "to what we already know."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide