US federal prosecutors have announced that they will not seek the “death penalty” against the suspect in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, Libyan Abu Ageila Muhammad Masoud Khair al-Marimi.
This came during the first hearing held in the federal courtroom in the US capital, Washington, with the aim of prosecuting Masoud, against the background of the killing of 270 people, including 190 Americans, after a bomb exploded on board a Boeing 747, belonging to Pan American Airlines, over the town of Lockerbie. Scottish, according to the American “ABC News” website.
The prosecution said that the accused of making the bomb that exploded on board the “Pan American” plane over the town of Lockerbie 34 years ago “will not face the death penalty, as the penalty was not applied at the federal level in the United States in 1998.”
In the context, Federal Prosecutor Eric Kenerson assured Federal Judge Robin Meriwether during the hearing that his office “will not pursue anything related to the death penalty, because the charges against the accused were not eligible for execution in 1988 when the bombing occurred.”
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The accused was charged with three charges, including destroying an aircraft in an accident that resulted in several deaths.
And Masoud (71 years old), a former officer in the Libyan External Security Service, US reports in 2021 claimed that he was responsible for manufacturing the bomb used to shoot down the plane over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, which killed the 259 passengers on board, in addition to 11 residents of the town.
It is noteworthy that the court gave Masoud, who is being held in a prison in the US state of Virginia, until December 19, to appoint a lawyer to follow up on the course of his trial.
Masood’s second trial session is scheduled for December 27, during which his defense attorneys can apply for his release, according to media reports.
As such, the Public Prosecution Office had previously confirmed that it would object to any request for the release of the accused.
It is noteworthy that Masoud is the third person accused of shooting down the “Pan American” flight, but he was the first to appear in an American courtroom.
The American judiciary charged Masoud in absentia on December 21, 2020, when the latter was in Libya.
And on Sunday, Scottish prosecutors announced that Masood was being held by the US authorities, without explaining how he was transferred from Libya to the United States.
Upon his arrival in the United States, Masood was transferred to a Virginia Department of Justice facility for the early stages of his trial.
Yesterday, the Libyan Parliament called on the Attorney General to “file a criminal case against those who were involved (whom he did not name) in the kidnapping of the citizen Abu Ajila Masoud and handed him over to foreign parties.”
For its part, the Ministry of Justice of the Libyan National Unity Government confirmed, on Sunday, that the file of the bombing of an American plane in the skies of Scotland in 1988, known internationally as the “Lockerbie” case, has been “completely closed from a legal and political point of view, and it cannot be raised again and cannot be returned to.”
The ministry’s statements came based on the settlement concluded between Libya and the United States in 2008, which stipulated that “it is not permissible, after paying money and compensation (to the families of the victims), to open any new claims for any acts committed by the two parties against the other before the date of the agreement concluded in 2018.”
Under the settlement, Washington is obligated to provide sovereign and diplomatic immunity to Libya, and that the families of the victims will not receive any compensation from the joint fund designated for the purpose only after providing this immunity.
In this regard, Libyan National Security Adviser Ibrahim Abu Shanaf said in a statement that former US President George W. Bush in 2008 “issued a presidential decree stipulating his country’s commitment to completely ending any future claims and closing any cases opened by the families of the victims, whether before domestic or foreign courts.”
After a political crisis between Libya and the United States for years, a Libyan citizen named Abd al-Basit al-Megrahi (died on May 20, 2012) was convicted of the incident on January 31, 2001, which prompted the Muammar Gaddafi regime in 2008 to accept a settlement and pay more than two billion dollars to the families of the victims to close the case.