Libyans Hire Scot Lawyer in BombingBy Thomas W. Lippman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 8, 1993; Page A22
The two Libyans accused of planting the bomb that destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988 have hired a lawyer in Edinburgh, raising the possibility that they may be prepared to stand trial in a Scottish court.
The lawyer, Alistair Duff, told reporters in Scotland yesterday that he is now representing Abdel Ali Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, who have been indicted on murder charges in Britain and the United States.
He said he and a prominent Scottish defense attorney, Lord Macaulay, will fly to Libya to interview the suspects "within two to three weeks."
It is far from certain, however, that the two will be tried soon. The U.N. Security Council has threatened to tighten economic sanctions against Libya if the two men are not turned over for trial in Britain or the United States by Oct. 1. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has refused to deliver them, telling a Scottish television interviewer last month that he was trying to persuade them to go voluntarily.
Their Libyan attorney, Ibrahim Legwell, told Reuter news agency yesterday that they and the Libyan government are still seeking a trial in a neutral country, rather than the United States or Britain.
Legwell said he has asked Britain for assurances that the two could get a fair trial despite unfavorable publicity and that no other Libyans would be prosecuted for the bombing.
"Once we get all that, and once we are convinced by the response, we will be ready to discuss positively how the two could stand trial somewhere," he said.
The United States, Britain and the United Nations have said they will not accept trial "somewhere," only in the United States or Britain.
Newspapers in Scotland have given extensive publicity to Legwell's efforts to secure legal counsel there and a possible agreement with the British government limiting the scope of the trial. But some of the victims' relatives have dismissed these probes as a delaying tactic aimed at creating the appearance of progress to ward off further U.N. sanctions.
Asked yesterday about an "agreement" between Britain and Libya, British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd said "there is no agreement, only a requirement" that the two face trial on murder charges.
"We have supplied the Libyans with information about the legal system in Scotland, how it works, how the men concerned would get a fair trial, how their friends and families would be able to visit them," he said.
"This is a fair procedure, and Scottish law has a high reputation," he added.
The destruction of Pan Am 103 over the village of Lockerbie killed all 259 people aboard, mostly Americans, and 11 on the ground. The two suspects have been identified as Libyan intelligence agents, but the Libyan government has denied involvement in the bombing.
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