Lord Advocate: Lockerbie bombing suspect not facing charges in Scotland

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The man suspected of being the Lockerbie bombmaker, who is detained in the US, is not currently facing criminal proceedings in Scotland, the Lord Advocate has said.

Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi appeared in a federal court in Washington on Monday accused of building the bomb that downed Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people.

Scotland’s top law officer Dorothy Bain KC told MSPs in Holyrood that the arrest of Mr Mas’ud from Libya had been “lawful”.

The Lord Advocate was asked by Tory MSP Jamie Greene to confirm where Scottish prosecutors would be looking to take action against the accused.

Swearing in of new Lord Advocate and Solicitor General
Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC said the man held in US custody is not facing proceedings in Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Greene said: “The eyes of the world are on us now as the situation develops and what might happen next.

“But the big question on the lips of many will be where and how Mr Mas’ud may face trial.

“The trial historically of Abdelbaset al Megrahi convened at the Scottish High Court of the Judiciary at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands in the year 2000.

Lockerbie bomber case
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing in 2001 (Crown Office).

“If so, what preparations have the Crown office made for any potential trial wherever and whenever it occurs?”

Ms Bain responded: “This is a joint investigation with American and Scottish prosecutors and law enforcement working together as they have done for the last 34 years.

“There are no current criminal proceedings in Scotland against Mr Mas’ud. I acknowledge that there are mixed views amongst the families about this development.

“The US and Scotland share criminal jurisdiction for the terrorist attack but it was clearly an attack against the United States.

“The bomb was targeted against a US plane en route to New York with 190 US citizens on board.

“Until the events of September 11, this was the deadliest terrorist attack on the United States.”

But she said, “Scottish prosecutors and law enforcers stand ready to afford all co-operation” to their US counterparts.

In an earlier statement, she welcomed the arrest and said she would meet with US officials next week.

On Monday, Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the attack, told the BBC he wanted a UN court set up, instead of the case being dealt with by the US or Scotland.

He said: “I think it should not take place in America. I think now, in view of what we now know about how Scotland handled the case, it should not take place in Scotland.

“The obvious way forward it seems to me is to resort to the United Nations and invite them to provide a court with appropriate facilities to try this man and hopefully to review all the evidence that was used against the unfortunate Megrahi.”

Any trial, Dr Swire added, should also re-assess evidence in the case against al-Megrahi, who was released in 2009 after being diagnosed with terminal cancer and died in Libya in 2012.

A second suspect, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, stood trial with al-Megrahi but was acquitted.

Mr Mas’ud will not face the death penalty because it was not constitutionally available at the time of the bombing, US prosecutors said.

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