Libyan will take stand to blame Palestinians

By Neil Mackay © 2000 at Camp Zeist, Holland
Publication Date: May 7 2000, Sunday Herald, Scotland

The man accused of blowing up Pan Am flight 103 will take the stand in the Lockerbie trial to accuse Palestinian terrorists of planting the bomb aboard the doomed aircraft.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, one of the two Lybians in the dock at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, will incriminate a number of Palestinian terror groups in an attempt to beat the charges against him.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Herald, Megrahi's brother, Mohamed Ali, revealed for the first time that Megrahi is to take the stand and told how the alleged crime has brought shame to the Megrahi family.

Megrahi and his co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, who were held in custody for 450 days before their trial began at the Dutch airbase last week, are using the Scottish defence of incrimination in a bid to prove their innocence.

Last night, Megrahi's brother said: "My brother is going to walk proudly into the witness box and tell the truth. He wants the truth revealed. He feels for the victims of the Lockerbie bombing. He said to me, 'If there's something I can do to help them then I will.' He wants to take the shame away from our family."

Mohamed said there was never any pressure put on his brother by the Libyan government to give himself up to the Dutch authorities. "He took the decision himself. I remember he said to me he was going to give himself up because that would help the Libyan people; it would stop the sanctions. He sacrificed himself for his country."

Megrahi's two children, his 16-year-old daughter Ghada and his son Khalid, 15, were in court every day last week with their uncle and a dozen other relatives. Mohamed portrayed his brother as a quiet, intelligent and religious man. "He swore to me and to God that he didn't carry out this crime and I believe him.

"Baset has sworn to me that he was never a Libyan intelligence agent. He was very angry at that accusation. That is why he will take the stand.

"My brother will only be found guilty if the court goes against God's wishes."

Many victims' relatives were disgusted when the accused entered the dock wearing their national dress of Arab robes. But Megrahi's brother said this was meant as a mark of respect to the court.

The trial reconvenes tomorrow morning when police and civilian witnesses for the prosecution will begin giving evidence relating to the operation that was launched to recover the bodies of the dead and the wreckage of the aircraft.

The gruelling testimony is expected to last a week.