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$2.7bn Lockerbie compensation deal

Pan Am flight 103 was destroyed over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, December 21, 1988.
Pan Am flight 103 was destroyed over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, December 21, 1988.

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Should sanctions against Libya be lifted?

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Lawyers for Libya and for families of the victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing have decided on the framework for $2.7 billion in compensation, a step which could lead to the end of sanctions on Libya, a lawyer representing family members has told CNN.

"This is a significant and substantial step forward," Mark Zaid, a Washington-based lawyer who represents about 40 of the victims' families, told CNN by phone.

The framework will enable the process of compensation to begin moving forward, Zaid said.

The Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland will become a neutral third party to retain the $2.7 billion and disseminate the funds when proper conditions are met, he said.

The payouts may begin when United Nations sanctions on Libya are removed.

In order to reach that step, Libya must send a letter to the president of the U.N. Security Council accepting responsibility for the bombing -- an event that could happen as early as Thursday.

"We're not quite there yet," Zaid told CNN.

There were 270 victims of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 -- 259 on the plane, and 11 on the ground.

The agreement will enable each victim's family to receive as much as $10 million apiece, Zaid said.

If U.N. sanctions are lifted, each family will receive $4 million. The U.N. Security Council could meet early next week to vote to lift sanctions.

When U.S. sanctions are lifted, they will each receive another $4 million, and if the U.S. State Department removes Libya from its list of nations that support terrorism, each family will receive another $2 million.

"If those latter two events don't take place within an eight-month period, another million will be provided," Zaid said.

That means that each family will receive at least $5 million in the deal, he said.

The United States imposed separate sanctions on the North African country over its suspected responsibility for the bombing.

U.N. sanctions on Libya -- an air and arms embargo -- were suspended in 1999 when Libya handed over two suspects for trial. One man was convicted and the other acquitted in 2001 after a trial in the Netherlands under Scottish law.

Libya has been seeking a full and formal lifting of those sanctions. One diplomat said any full lifting of sanctions would help Libya's case in getting the United States' separate sanctions lifted.

U.S. State Department officials have said that while acceptance of responsibility for the bombing is a critical step toward lifting the U.S. sanctions, the Libyan government still had several conditions to meet before it could be removed from the department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.

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