Lockerbie disaster: Man charged with bombing Pan Am Flight 103 appears in US court | World News

The man accused of making the bomb that killed Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 has appeared in a US courtroom.

Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir al Marimi appeared in person in Washington federal court.

Dressed in a green jumpsuit, he walked slowly into the courtroom, speaking only to confirm his name. He was not invited to enter a plea.

About 20 relatives of those killed in the blast appeared in the public gallery.

Among them were a widow and her daughter, and a man and his motherless father.

They were part of the families left incomplete by the biggest terror attack in British history.

“I’ve been doing this [pursuing justice] For 34 years,” a relative, Stephanie Bernstein, told Sky News.

“My daughter was seven years old when my husband was killed… The US government will take care of the lives and deaths of its citizens…Thanks to the Biden administration.”

The proceedings lasted less than an hour, paving the way for a further detention hearing on Dec. 27.

Masood said through his federal attorney that he has not yet been able to appoint his own legal counsel. He has a week to do so and he will remain in custody.

Libya claims responsibility for 1988 attacks
All 243 passengers and 16 crew on board were killed

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Investigation concludes bomb in suitcase

Masoud has long been wanted by prosecutors and is suspected to be the “third person” who was shot down over Lockerbie in December 34 years ago.

A bomb exploded at 31,000 feet on the jumbo 747, half an hour into a transatlantic flight from London’s Heathrow to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

All 243 passengers and 16 crew members on board were killed. On the ground, another 11 people died after debris fell into homes in the town of Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway.

A painstaking and lengthy survey combed 845 square miles of the Scottish countryside in search of debris. It concluded that the bomb was placed in a cassette player wrapped in clothing and inside a suitcase.

After the Libyan government claimed responsibility in 2003, two former intelligence service members were arrested, extradited and tried.

Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah was acquitted. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi was convicted in 2012 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

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Suspected Lockerbie bomb maker arrested

Investigators always suspect a third person

Megrahi, who was twice unsuccessfully ousted, was released on compassionate grounds in 2009 and died in Libya in 2012.

But investigators have always suspected a third person was part of the plot.

Masoud was detained in Libya in 2011 after the overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi as part of a crackdown on regime supporters.

The following year, he is said to have told a Libyan law enforcement official that he was the Lockerbie bomb maker.

This apparent 2012 confession formed the basis of the case against him released by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2020.

Details of how Mas’ud was transferred from a Libyan detention facility to the United States have not been revealed.

Abu Agila Mohammad Mas'ud Kheir al-Marimi in US custody
Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir al-Marimi in US custody

Scotland’s top legal official meets US officials

The bombing remains the deadliest terrorist attack in British history. People in 21 counties were killed.

Scotland’s top legal official welcomes Mas’ud’s news detained by the United States.

“The steps taken by US judicial authorities are significant and Scottish prosecutors and police welcome the legal breakthrough,” said prosecutor Dorothy Bain KC.

“Scotland and the United States are deeply saddened by the tragic events of December 1988 and firmly determined to bring to justice all those responsible for this atrocity.”

She added: “For more than 20 years, the Crown Office and the Prosecutor’s Treasury have had a case team responsible for this investigation, bringing together a range of prosecutorial expertise and judicial expertise in counter-terrorism, major crime investigations, forensic analysis, international cooperation and more. assist.”

Ms Bain said officials in Scotland and the US would continue to investigate the case “with the sole aim of bringing to justice those who acted with Megrahi”.

She confirmed she would meet with U.S. officials next week to discuss the case.

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