Libya's eastern parliament assigns legal team to defend Lockerbie suspect

Abu Agila Mohammad Masud appeared in a US court over charges that he made the bomb that downed a plane over Scotland in 1988

A man holds a poster of Lockerbie suspect Abu Agila Mohammad Masud, with words written in Arabic: 'What is the fate of Abu Agila Al Marimi?' Reuters
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Libya’s eastern-based parliament has ordered the country’s judiciary to assign a legal team to defend Lockerbie bombing suspect Abu Agila Mohammad Masud.

The former intelligence officer has been extradited to the US to stand trial over accusations that he made the bomb that downed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.

Abdullah Blehaq, the official spokesman for the eastern parliament, said the House decided to address the public prosecutor to brief the body and to amend laws,to prevent the extradition of any Libyan in the future.

Libya has been split between eastern and western factions since 2014, after the 2011 Nato-backed uprising against Muammar Qaddafi.

The country’s interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh, the head of the UN-backed Government of National Unity (GNU), is based in Tripoli in the western part of Libya.

The parliament in Tobruk, in the east of the country, is backing a rival government led by Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha.

MPs said they would pursue further prosecution against all those involved in reopening the Lockerbie incident file and Mr Masud’s extradition to the US, Mr Blehaq added.

Some eastern politicians have blamed Mr Dbeibeh's administration for the extradition. The Libyan former intelligence officer's handover sparked a backlash against Mr Debeibeh's government, which controls the west of the conflict-wracked country.

Earlier last month, Mr Masud appeared in a US court.

He could face life in prison if convicted of "destruction of an aircraft resulting in death" and two other related charges.

Photos of victims who died in the bombing of Pan Am 103 are held up outside the court where Lockerbie bombing suspect Abu Agila Mohammad Masud was scheduled to make an initial appearance in the US. EPA

The Libyan state had considered the case closed since 2003, after Qaddafi's regime officially acknowledged its responsibility for the attack, paid $2.7 billion in compensation and handed over two Libyan suspects.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet Al Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah were charged with the bombing and tried by a Scottish court in the Netherlands.

Megrahi spent seven years in a Scottish prison after his conviction in 2001 while Fhimah was acquitted.

Megrahi died in Libya in 2012, having maintained he was innocent.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: January 03, 2023, 11:40 AM