Wednesday, January 31, 2001
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Posted at: 12:25 a.m., Wednesday, January 31, 2001

One Libyan defendant found guilty, one innocent of Pan Am bombing

By Victorina de Boer
Bloomberg News

CAMP ZEIST, NETHERLANDS — One of the two Libyans accused of bombing a Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, was found guilty by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands.

The panel of three judges found Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al- Megrahi guilty, and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah not guilty.

The prosecution decided this month to drop conspiracy charges and focus instead on a charge of murdering 270 people in the explosion that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988.

Under terms brokered by the then-president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, the trial of Al Megrahi and Fhimah took place at a former U.S. airbase in the Netherlands temporarily designated as Scottish territory. Under Scottish law, the judges have a choice of three verdicts: "guilty," "not guilty" or "not proven."

The allegations of Libyan involvement in the bombing led to United Nations sanctions against Libya in 1992. The sanctions were suspended in April 1999 after Libya, in need of foreign investment and trade, handed over the two suspects for trial. European companies were quick to take advantage of the move, though U.S. companies are still prohibited from doing business with Libya.

The New York-bound Boeing 747 blew up 40 minutes after taking off from London’s Heathrow Airport, killing all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground.

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