Lockerbie suspects arrive in Netherlands for trial
April 5, 1999
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (CNN) -- More than a decade after a bomb brought down a Pan Am jetliner over Scotland, two Libyans accused of blowing up the plane arrived in the Netherlands on Monday to stand trial for the bombing.
Libya handed over the accused -- Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah -- to U.N. representatives on Monday in Tripoli. The move ended a 10-year manhunt and paved the way for the lifting of U.N. sanctions against Libya.
The two men will be tried by a British court in the Netherlands for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, which killed all 259 aboard the jetliner. Another 11 died on the ground when the plane's shattered hulk plunged to earth.
Both of the suspects have declared their innocence, and Libya denies any involvement.
The Dutch Justice Ministry will hold a news conference at 1300 GMT (9 a.m. EST) Monday in connection with the extradition.
Once the men are in the Netherlands, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to write a letter to the Security Council that would suspend sanctions imposed on Libya in 1992 and tightened in 1993. The council can vote to lift them 90 days later.
The trial of the accused is likely to drag on for months and will be preceded by extradition proceedings between Britain and the Netherlands.
The suspects will be held in Rotterdam until formally extradited to a temporary detention unit at Camp Zeist, a former U.S. air base near Utrecht. The camp will serve as British territory for the trial. The extradition proceedings could be over in minutes or could take months, officials said.
In the Netherlands, preparations continued Monday for the long-awaited trial.
A temporary detention unit at Camp Zeist is ready for the suspects, Scottish officials said.
Sheriff Graham Cox, the regional judge who will oversee pre-trial proceedings, was expected to arrive in the Netherlands on Monday. Scottish prosecutors Norman McFadyen and Jim Brisbane were already there.
The United States and Britain accuse al-Megrahi, 47, and Fhimah, 43, of planting a bomb in a suitcase aboard the 747.
The jetliner blew up on December 21 at 31,000 feet over Lockerbie during a flight from London to New York. Most of the dead were Americans.
Last August, Britain and the United States dropped their insistence on a trial in either of their countries and agreed to a venue in a neutral, third country.
More than 100 Scottish policemen and court officials plus scores of media representatives have descended on the Camp Zeist. Some area residents told CNN they were worried about personal safety because of the impending trial, but others said they were not concerned.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Suspects in Pan Am bombing handed over to UN in Tripoli
Permanent Mission of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to the United Nations in New York
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