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Lockerbie families deny Gadhafi proof

TRIPOLI, Libya -- Relatives of the Lockerbie bomb victims have dismissed Colonel Moammar Gadhafi's claim that the Libyan convicted of the mass murder is innocent.

Gadhafi said on Thursday that Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi was innocent -- and that he was ready to make public evidence that would clear the convicted killer.

He was speaking as Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, who was found not guilty of taking part in the bombing, arrived home in Libya to a hero's welcome led by Gadhafi.

But, in London, a spokesman for families of Lockerbie victims dismissed Gadhafi's comments, in which he said he would make the evidence public on Monday.

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Gadhafi said: "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.

"I have proven evidence that he is innocent and I will reveal the evidence on Monday."

Gadhafi spoke as Megrahi was beginning a life sentence -- with a recommendation that he serve at least 20 years before being eligible for parole - and considering whether to launch an appeal against his conviction.

Dr Jim Swire, spokesman for the U.K. Families Flight 103, greeted Gadhafi's comments with scepticism.

"Soon after the indictment was issued, I met Colonel Gadhafi to expressly ask him to accept trial under Scottish justice for his two citizens.

"His government agreed in writing to the proposals of Professor Bob Black of Edinburgh (University) that they be tried under Scottish criminal rules.

"That is what has now happened and therefore I think there's only a limited extent to which he (Gaddafi) can beef about it."

A crowd of about 100 family and friends met and embraced 44-year-old Fhimah on the tarmac of a military airfield outside Tripoli.

Fhimah punched the air and shouted "Allahu akbar" (God is great), after touching down at 5 p.m. local time (1500 GMT).

As he emerged from his aircraft, his supporters shouted: "Justice has triumphed! Down with America."

"I'm happy to be with papa," said Zahra Fhimah, as she watched the crowd around her father.

After a brief reunion with his family, Fhimah was whisked away in a convoy of 14 cars and buses to Gadhafi's residential compound, where the Libyan leader hugged Fhimah. Gadhafi also said he would be seeking compensation for the families of those killed in the 1986 U.S. air force raid on Tripoli. The victims included Gadhafi's adopted daughter.

"We must not forget the victims of the 1986 massacre," Gadhafi said.

"What do courts have to say about these victims? What do the United Nations and America have to say about them? Are these victims human beings or cattle?"

As Fhimah was flying out of the Netherlands, the Dutch intelligence agency revealed that a Libyan agent who masqueraded as a Muslim cleric had been deported last October.

Vincent Van Steen of the Internal Security Agency said Ahmed Ali Hadi was evicted because he was "a danger to the security of this country," but that his activities were not connected to the Lockerbie case.

Megrahi, 48, remains at Camp Zeist but will be transferred to a Scottish jail if he does not appeal or if an appeal fails.

On Wednesday, the judges recommended that he serve at least 20 years of the mandatory life sentence before being eligible for parole.

Colin Boyd, Lord Advocate of Scotland who led the prosecution team, said it was "clear" that Megrahi did not act alone but that there not sufficient evidence against any suspect to bring further charges.

After the 84-day trial, Libya demanded a complete lifting of U.N. sanctions imposed in 1992 -- a call was backed by the 22-member state Arab League.

But President George W. Bush said the U.S. still holds Libya accountable for the bombing and both the U.S. and Britain have said any lifting of sanctions would not be a quick process as several demands still had to be fulfilled.

But Libyan officials have insisted that their government had nothing to do with the blast and denied that the government was implicated by the verdict.

Gadhafi offers Lockerbie evidence
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Freed Lockerbie Libyan heads home
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'I am clean' says jailed Megrahi
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Lockerbie families demand answers
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Libya faces Lockerbie pressure
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Lockerbie divided over verdict
January 31, 2001
Lockerbie relatives' relief at conviction
January 31, 2001

Lockerbie Trial Briefing Site
Libya online
United Nations Security Council
The Scottish Law Commission

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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