COURT RULES BBC CAN'T TELEVISE LOCKERBIE TRIAL The Associated Press © 2000

EDINBURGH, Scotland (April 20, 2000 4:55 p.m. EDT) The High Court on Thursday rejected an appeal by the British Broadcasting Corp. to broadcast the trial of two Libyans accused of blowing up a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.

The BBC had asked the panel of judges to overturn last month's decision by High Court Judge Lord Donald Macfadyen, who ruled that the Libyans' right to a fair trial outweighed the media's right to freedom of expression.

The BBC's bid was backed by eight other broadcasters, including Associated Press Television News.

The Pan Am airliner exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, killing 259 passengers and crew and 11 people on the ground.

The BBC had argued that private, closed-circuit footage of the trial, to be arranged for relatives of the victims in Britain and the United States, meant the trial was effectively being televised anyway.

The defendants, former Libyan secret servicemen Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, 48, and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, 44, are charged with conspiracy, murder and a breach of the 1982 Aviation Security Act.

Libya handed the men over only after an agreement the case would be heard in the Netherlands. They will be tried under the Scottish legal system, which bans cameras in the courtroom.

The trial is scheduled to begin on May 3 at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands.

The BBC said it was seeking permission to appeal Thursday's decision to the Privy Council, the final court of appeal under Scottish law.