Evidence shows Gadhafi ordered Lockerbie bombing, paper says
May 23, 1999
LONDON (CNN) -- The Sunday Times reports that it has seen "clear evidence" of the personal involvement of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in the bombing of Pan Am 103.
However, the Times said it would not publish details because the government has threatened the paper with a court injunction.
The Times said the government is hoping to restore normal relations with Libya in spite of what it called evidence that Gadhafi personally ordered the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing.
A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed that British and Libyan officials met recently. But he would not say whether the talks were aimed at resuming diplomatic relations severed 15 years ago.
"We have held talks with the Libyans at the official level. We don't get into the details of substance of discussions," the Foreign Office spokesman said.
Declining further comment, the spokesman said the destruction of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland with the loss of 270 lives was now before a Scottish court, which will sit in the Netherlands to try two Libyan suspects handed over by Tripoli after years of Western pressure.
Gadhafi role no surprise, paper says
The Times quoted a senior intelligence officer as saying last week: "We have known for a long while that Gadhafi gave the order. It is a sham for him to pretend otherwise and it is an even bigger sham for the British government to let him off the hook."
The report said British security services have concluded that Gadhafi ordered the bombing in retaliation for U.S. President Ronald Reagan's 1986 bombing attack on Tripoli, which killed the Libyan leader's adopted daughter.
The 1988 Lockerbie bombing killed all 259 people on board and 11 others on the ground. Most of the dead were Americans.
Under a complex deal brokered by the United Nations, two Libyan suspects, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima, were flown from Tripoli to the central Dutch city of Utrecht last month.
They were locked up there in a former military base under temporary British authority for trial by a Scottish court. The trial is not due to begin for months.
The Sunday Times said once the Lockerbie suspects had been handed over, senior British Foreign Office officials met their Libyan counterparts in Rome for secret talks aimed at normalising relations.
Britain severed relations with Libya in 1984, after the shooting of British policewoman Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London during a protest against Gadhafi.
A senior Libyan official, Hassouna Chaouch, said earlier this month that there were already bilateral contacts between Libyan and British officials and that he hoped relations would resume now that the Lockerbie suspects have been handed over.
Reuters contributed to this report.
U.S. ready to discuss lifting U.N. sanctions on Libya
The Sunday Times (Internet Edition)
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