Lockerbie figures sentenced to death in Libya

Professor Robert Black QC

Figures closely linked to the Lockerbie bombing and the subsequent investigation and trial are among those who have been sentenced to death in Libya.

Former Libyan prime minister and intelligence minister Abuzed Omar-Dorda has been sentenced to execution by firing squad by a court in Tripoli alongside seven others, including former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.

The ex-government figures, former allies of Muammar Gaddafi, were on trial for their roles during the north African country’s 2011 civil war.

The court which condemned them is affiliated to Libya’s new General National Congress (new GNC), a Tripoli-based body driven largely by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies.

The new GNC claims to be the legitimate government of Libya — though lacks international recognition — which belongs to the elected parliament and government based in Tobruk, which has maintained the loyalty of the Libyan Army but now exercises little control over the country.

If the sentences are carried out, it will prevent the new Lockerbie inquiry from speaking to key figures like al-Senussi, whom the Crown Office sees as a valuable witness.

The Libyan government had originally assured investigators that access would be provided to key figures in the country following the 2011 civil war, but the country has since been torn apart by violent political turmoil.

Omar-Dorda is credited with facilitating the trial of the late Abdelbaset al-Megrahi at Camp Zeist, the special sitting of the High Court of Justiciary in the Netherlands.

Professor Robert Black QC , one of the chief architects of the trial, said Omar-Dorda was “instrumental in brokering the arrangement that led the UK and USA eventually to agree to a non-jury trial in the Netherlands”.

He also described Mr Omar-Dorda as “a genuinely good guy”.

Mr Black’s remarks were echoed by Dr Jim Swire, the spokesman for the British relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims.

Dr Swire said: “I had hoped vainly these guys would be handed over to international criminal courts, given a fair trial and no death sentence imposed. They have been tried in a court which wouldn’t be recognised outside Libya.

“I’m particularly sad about Dorda, who I knew well and met many times.”

Lawyers for some of the newly sentenced have said they will appeal the death sentences in Libya’s Supreme Court, which is also affiliated to the new GNC and has previously ruled that the internationally-recognised government in Tobruk is illegitimate.

Abdullah al-Senussi’s wife, Fatma Farkash, told the Associated Press from London: “We were not expecting this. It was an ugly verdict.

“Libya doesn’t have a functioning state, and it was a closed hearing.”

A spokesman for the Crown Office added: “We note the media reports of the sentence handed to Abdullah Senussi.

“Scottish prosecutors continue to work with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United States and Libyan authorities despite the difficult situation in Libya to bring the others involved in the Lockerbie bombing to justice.”

Share icon
Share this article: