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Lockerbie bombing suspect brought to court

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The 71-year-old Libyan, who allegedly made the bomb used in the attack in Scotland in 1988, appeared in a brief hearing in a Washington court. He does not incur the death penalty.

A Libyan, accused of having prepared the bomb used in the Lockerbie attack in Scotland, was transferred to the United States and presented Monday, December 12 to a federal judge, nearly 34 years after this tragedy which had left 270 dead. .

During a brief hearing in a court in Washington, Abu Agila Mohammad Massoud Kheir Al-Marimi, 71, was informed of the charges against him, in particular for “destruction of an aircraft causing death”.

Despite the seriousness of the facts, this man born in Tunisia does not incur the death penalty, because it did not apply in 1988 at the federal level for these charges, said a prosecutor.

Abou Massoud, who was speaking through a translator, will remain in detention until a next hearing on December 27, when his lawyers may ask for his possible release. The prosecution has indicated that it will oppose it.

“An important step to bring justice”

US Justice Minister Merrick Garland welcomed the transfer of the accused to American soil. “This is an important step in bringing justice to the victims and their loved ones,” he said in a statement.

A former member of the intelligence services of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, he was charged by American justice on December 21, 2020, the 32nd anniversary of the tragedy. He was then in detention in Libya and the American authorities said they were “optimistic” about the chances of obtaining his extradition.

The conditions of his arrest by the United States, announced Sunday by Scottish justice, and his transfer to American soil, however, remain unknown. In a statement, the White House limited itself to saying that the United States had arrested him “lawfully”.

“Today is an important day for justice,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement, welcoming the cooperation with the Scottish authorities and the “efforts of the Libyan authorities in recent years”.

“These events show that our quest for justice knows no bounds,” said Scotland’s chief magistrate, Dorothy Bain, saying she would travel to the United States next week to meet with prosecutors. Americans and take part in the commemorations of the tragedy.

So far only one convict

On December 21, 1988, a Pan Am Boeing 747 flying from London to New York exploded over the Scottish village of Lockerbie, killing all 259 passengers and crew and 11 people on the ground.

This attack is the deadliest ever committed on the territory of the United Kingdom, but also the second deadliest against Americans after the attacks of September 11, 2001, since 190 victims were American.

Only one person has been convicted for this attack: the Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed Al-Megrahi, who has always maintained his innocence, was sentenced to life in prison in 2001 after a trial in a Scottish criminal court established on neutral ground , in the Nederlands. Another defendant had been acquitted.

Released on August 20, 2009 by the Scottish courts due to terminal cancer, Al-Megrahi received a triumphant welcome on his return to Tripoli. He died in 2012.

In 2003, the regime of Muammar Gaddafi had officially recognized its responsibility in the attack and paid 2.7 billion dollars in compensation to the families of the victims.

France 24-Trans

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