Lawyers forge Lockerbie plan

Leading lawyers have hammered out a plan that could end the stalemate blocking the trial of the two Libyans accused of the Lockerbie bombing.

The Libyans are refusing to leave their country because they do not believe they would get a fair trial in the US and the UK, but say they would accept a trial in a neutral location such as the Hague in the Netherlands. The UK and US governments insist on a trial in their jurisdictions.

Gerard Brown, a criminal lawyer and council member of the Law Society of Scotland, told the Lockerbie seminar last week that conditions could be attached to any extradition treaty to Scotland to ensure that the Libyans' concerns were addressed.

Leading international criminal lawyer Cherif Bassiouini said that the only deal the UK and US governments might accept would be the extradition of the two men to Scotland from a 'third-party' country like Egypt, with rigorous conditions attached to satisfy the Libyans.

“Maybe an arrangement can be made with Scotland to extradite under very specific conditions, such as free and continuous access to counsel, and the United States accepting the decision of the court and not issuing a warrant after the trial.

“That would be a solution that would be quite acceptable to the Scottish authorities.

It would be a hard pill to swallow for the US but offers a face-saving device in that the trial would be in Scotland and would be as fair as possible for the accused.”

Alistair Duff, the Scots lawyer for the two men, said he would have to put the idea to his two clients.

Ross Harper, IBA president, said the report of the seminar, including Bassiouini's proposal, would be now have to be put to the General Assembly of the United Nations.

See conference report on page 5 and issues on page 10.