Libya warned to yield suspects in Pan Am blast U.S., Britain issue joint statement

November 28, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

WASHINGTON -- The United States and Britain, in a joint statement yesterday, said that Libya must "surrender for trial" the Libyans accused in the bombing in December 1988 of Pan Am Flight 103 and "accept responsibility for the actions of Libyan officials" in the episode.

Washington and London also demanded that Libya compensate the families of the 270 people killed at Lockerbie, Scotland.

"We expect Libya to comply promptly and in full," the two nations said in simultaneous statements that followed up on criminal charges each filed against two alleged Libyan intelligence agents Nov. 14.

The declaration also said that Libya must "disclose all it knows" of the incident, including the names of people responsible; provide access to witnesses, documents and other evidence; and pay "appropriate compensation."

Libya rejected the demands last night in a statement issued by its U.N. mission, Reuters reported.

The mission called the statement "yet another orchestrated crusade against Libya" that implied it had been tried and found guilty in the Lockerbie incident.

"Demanding that Libya accept full responsibility for such despicable acts against humanity is completely unacceptable," the mission said, according to Reuters.

The U.S.-British statement did not explicitly state what measures would be taken if Libya failed to comply.

Asked what would happen in that case, a White House spokesman said, "We continue to consult with the allies. All options remain open."

In London, a British official said, "We are not ruling anything in, or anything out."

The White House spokesman said that the United States and Britain were seeking a "prompt" response but would not be more specific.

The two indicted Libyans were identified as Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi, 39, chief of the airport security section of Libyan intelligence, and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, 35, an intelligence agent who worked for Libyan Arab Airlines in Malta.

The United States, Britain and France also issued a separate declaration in connection with the Pan Am bombing as well as the bombing of a UTA airlines flight Sept. 19, 1989, over Niger. Libyan officials have been accused by France in connection with that bombing.

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