INTERNATIONAL

Libya offers $2.7 b. for families of victims

Washington May 29. Libya has offered to pay $2.7 billion to the families of the 270 victims of the Lockerbie bombing. A Libyan intelligence offer has been convicted of planting the bomb that blew up a Pan Am flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988.

The Government of Muammar Gadhafi has laid down conditions for the release of the money, including the lifting of U.N. and U.S. sanctions and the removal of Libya from the U.S. list of countries sponsoring terrorism. Each victim's family would receive $10 million, but the money would only be handed over piecemeal — 40 per cent when the United Nations sanctions are lifted; 40 per cent when U.S. sanctions are lifted; and 20 per cent when Libya is taken off the U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism.

The law firm representing Libya has apparently sent a letter to the families of the victims saying that the money will be deposited in an escrow account in a non-American bank. The money will be automatically released to a Plaintiffs' Committee Account in New York as Libya's conditions are met.

Libya has denied any role or culpability in the Lockerbie bombing but in January 2001, a three judge Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands ruled a member of Libya's security service guilty of the bombing that killed 259 passengers of the Pan Am flight and 11 residents of Lockerbie. Officially, neither the Bush administration nor the Libyan representative in New York have commented on the reported offer to settle the case. A State Department official said the reported offer would not affect Washington's policy towards Libya "one iota". The Bush administration will most likely turn down the Libyan offer, especially since it comes with conditions.

The United States and Britain have demanded that Libya not only accept full responsibility for the bombing but pay "appropriate" compensation to the victims of the families. They want this done before the United Nations even considers the lifting of sanctions. More than the U.N. sanctions, what hurts Tripoli more is the set of commercial and financial sanctions imposed by the United States. The U.S. has listed Libya as one of the seven States that sponsor terrorism.

Recommended for you