Prosecutors await arrival of Pan Am bombing suspects
Handover plans shrouded in secrecy
April 4, 1999
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (CNN) -- Scottish prosecutors arrived in the Netherlands Sunday, along with dozens of journalists, to await the arrival of two Libyans who are to go on trial for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Details about the planned handover of the suspects from Libya to a United Nations team were shrouded in secrecy, but Libya has pledged to deliver the men to U.N. custody by Tuesday.
Egyptian and Arab League representatives left Cairo Sunday to witness the transfer, at the invitation of Libya, an Arab League official said.
More than 100 Scottish policemen and court officials plus scores of press have descended on the former U.S. airbase Camp Zeist, the venue for the trial, near the Netherlands' sleepy central village of Soesterberg.
Scottish prosecutors Norman McFadyen and Jim Brisbane landed at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport Sunday afternoon.
They will present the case against Libyans Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, accused by Britain and the United States of planting a bomb aboard Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988. The bombing killed 270 people in the air and on the ground, most of them British and American.
The Netherlands site is considered neutral ground for the trial, which will be conducted using Scottish laws.
The handover of the two men for trial paves the way for the lifting of punitive U.N. sanctions against Libya and marks a watershed in Libya's relations with the West.
Once the men are in the Netherlands, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, whose office has handled indirect negotiations between Libya and the United States and Britain, is to write a letter to the U.N. Security Council that would automatically suspend sanctions imposed on Libya in 1992 and tightened in 1993. The council can vote to lift them 90 days later.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Permanent Mission of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to the United Nations in New York
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