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U.N. Tells Libya to Extradite Suspects : Terrorism: The Security Council may impose sanctions against Kadafi's regime if the two men indicted in the 1988 Pan Am bombing are not surrendered.

January 22, 1992|JOHN J. GOLDMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council unanimously called on Libya on Tuesday to cooperate with investigations and to surrender for trial two suspects in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people. The council also demanded that Libya produce evidence in connection with the bombing of a French airliner.

If Libya does not agree, Western diplomats said they will ask the council to impose mandatory sanctions against the government of Moammar Kadafi, probably including denying landing rights to Libyan airliners.

Tuesday's action was the first time that the council effectively has requested the extradition of citizens of one nation to stand trial in another country, in this case the requested move of indicted suspects from Libya to either Scotland or America for trial. The resolution asked Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to try to persuade Libya to "provide a full and effective response."

"The council has clearly reaffirmed the right of all states to protect its citizens," said U.S. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering. "We hope that Libya will respond effectively and do so rapidly. The council expects Libyan compliance with the resolution. The enormity of the crimes demands no less.

"The council will be watching how Libya responds," Pickering said, holding out the possibility of further U.N. action. "The council will be acting in a step-by-step measure to ensure its commitment to international peace and security."

The United States will take over from Britain as president of the Security Council in February, and some diplomats saw that fact as posing an informal six-week deadline to Libya.

"We trust that the Libyan authorities will now see reason and comply fully and effectively with our requests and make available the accused for trial in Scotland or the United States," said British Ambassador David Hannay. "This was a mass murder, and one in which we have good reason to believe the organs of a state member of the United Nations were implicated."

Hannay noted that two more months have passed since Britain asked Libya to make the accused available for trial. "Instead, the Libyan authorities have prevaricated and have resorted to even wider diversionary tactics," Hannay asserted.

The resolution was sponsored by the United States, Britain and France.

France's deputy representative, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, said that his government hopes the unanimous council action will cause Libyan authorities to respond "as soon as possible."

In a last-minute effort to head off the vote, Libya told the Security Council it would accept arbitration to decide responsibility for the Pan Am crash on Dec. 21, 1988, and the bombing of a French UTA airliner in 1989 over Niger. When the French DC-10 exploded on Sept. 19, 171 people were killed.

Speaking before the unanimous 15-member vote, Jadallah Azzuz Talhi, Libya's minister of strategic industries, asserted that American and British indictments of the suspects were "based on guesswork." Talhi said Libya has ordered two of its investigating judges to look into the charges but has received no cooperation from the Americans, British or French. Thus, he explained, Libyan investigators "have not made any significant progress."

Talhi sought to cast the case in a narrow framework, stressing that it should be dealt with under international conventions covering civil aviation. They provide first for arbitration of disputes between nations, then, if agreement cannot be reached, submission of disputes to the International Court of Justice, he said.

"Libya has never threatened any country with aggression," he told the council. "Indeed, it is Libya which is being threatened by a superpower, and an armed aggression was waged against it before, as in 1986. It is still subjected to an international boycott, disinformation and psychological pressure." He claimed that the Americans and British want to use the extradition requests "as a cover for a military and economic aggression on a small country striving for its emancipation from economic backwardness."

American and British prosecutors have indicted two Libyans, accusing them of being intelligence agents in the Lockerbie bombing. They have demanded they be turned over for trial. In a joint declaration before the council action Tuesday, both nations further demanded that the government of Libya must accept responsibility for the actions of the Libyan officials, disclose all it knows about the crimes and pay appropriate compensation.

France has issued arrest warrants for four Libyan intelligence operatives and has called on Kadafi's government to cooperate immediately with prosecutors by producing evidence, assembling witnesses and facilitating meetings with French investigators.

Several relatives of victims of the Pan Am bombing sat in the public gallery when the Security Council vote was taken Tuesday.

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