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29 Apr 2003 20:32
Libya will pay $10-million to each of the 270 victims of the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing after accepting civil responsibility for the blast, the country’s foreign minister, Abdel Rahman Shalgham, said today.
“My country has accepted civil responsibility for the actions of its officials in the Lockerbie affair, in conformity with international civil law and the agreement reached in London in March by Libyan, American and British officials,” he said.
According to Agence France-Presse, Shalgham said that full payment was conditional on UN sanctions against Libya being lifted after payment of an initial instalment of $4-million to each victim, and US sanctions following a similar payment.
After payment of the final instalment of $2-million, Libya would ask to be removed from the US list of countries supporting terrorism, he added.
The total sum of $2,7-billion was the same as US officials, on March 12, said that Libya had offered as compensation in talks with the US and Britain. Many relatives, however, have been pushing for an admission of full responsibility for the downing of PanAm flight 103.
They also said that Tripoli was prepared to assume limited responsibility for the downing of Pan Am flight 103, something it has previously refused to do.
The Boeing 747 blew up and crashed over Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, on December 21 1988, after taking off from London.
All 259 people on board, and another 11 on the ground, were killed.
In January 2001, a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands convicted Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, one of two Libyan agents charged with the bombing, and sentenced him to life in prison.
Libya offers cash to quit ‘axis of evil’
Libya will ask to be removed from Washington’s “axis of evil” list after it has paid the families of the 270 victims of the Lockerbie bombing Shalgham said.
“Libyan businessmen” had already set up a fund for the compensation, he said, and he hoped the damages would be paid soon, “perhaps in the coming weeks”.
After the final $2-million payment, Tripoli hoped to be removed from the US list of states sponsoring terrorism.
UN sanctions against Libya were suspended but not lifted after Tripoli handed over two Libyan suspects. A Libyan intelligence agent, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, was later convicted of the bombing by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands.
It was not clear if Libya’s compensation offer was contingent on legal actions against the government by individual families of the victims being dropped.
A British Foreign Office spokesperson said: “In light of this latest report we will be looking forward to further dialogue with the Libyan government.” - Guardian Unlimited Â
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