Libyans ‘will never hand over new Lockerbie suspects’

SCOTTISH prosecutors will face “serious complications” in their hopes of progressing the case against two new Libyan suspects in the Lockerbie bombing, according to a former UK ambassador to the North African country.

The nose section of Pan Am Flight 103 lies in a field outside Lockerbie. Picture: AP
The nose section of Pan Am Flight 103 lies in a field outside Lockerbie. Picture: AP

Oliver Miles has warned that the move is unlikely to lead to “quick or spectacular results” after it emerged that the Scots legal chiefs have sought permission to interview Abu Agila Mas’ud and former security chief Abdullah al-Senussi over the 1989 bombing.

The Libyan Government is also unlikely to want to hand over the suspects to Scotland, with Senussi facing the death penalty for other massacres and Mas’ud also incarcerated, according to the father of one of the victims.

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Both men were part of the welcoming party for Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi when he was released from Scottish custody in 2009 on compassionate grounds. He is the only man to have been convicted of the 1988 atrocity which killed 270 people over the Scottish town.

Mr Miles said yesterday that police must do everything they can to “follow up the evidence in this terrible crime.”

But he insisted Senussi is hardly a new suspect as head of Libyan intelligence for “many many years” and brother-in-law of the former Libyan despot Muammar Gaddafi. “If anybody knows about Libyan involvement in this he will,” Mr Miles said.

“The problem is that he’s already under sentence of death for other crimes. More serious crimes than Lockerbie if you can imagine that - the murder of 1,200 prisoners involved in an escape attempt in Libya and other crimes as well.

“So I’m not holding my breath. I don’t expect this initiative to have any quick or spectacular results. But it’s got to be done.”

He added: “It may be that it’s possible for police and FBI to interview Senussi and perhaps this other man Mas’ud who is held in prison, but it’s anyone’s guess whether that will work. There are serious complications. There are two aspirants to be government in Libya.

“There’s a government based in Tripoli and there’s another government based in Tobruk. Apparently the Lord Advocate has approached the government in Tripoli. There’s a slight complication in that HMG, the Government, recognise the government in Tobruk not the one in Tripoli.

“If those difficulties are overcome you still have the problem that this man is under sentence of death. He may not be interested in talking to foreign policemen.”