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Libyan guilty of Lockerbie bombing

CAMP ZEIST, Netherlands -- One of the two Libyans accused of murdering 270 people in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing has been found guilty of mass murder.

Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi, 48, has been given a life sentence which he is expected to spend in tough Barlinnie prison in Glasgow, Scotland.

His co-defendant, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44, has been found not guilty of murder.

The verdict means he can walk free, and will not face any further legal action in British, U.S. or other courts.

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Libyan ambassador Aubzed Dorda: Libya has nothing to do with the tragedy

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CNN's Walter Rodgers on how Lockerbie took the news

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Relative of Lockerbie victim Bert Ammerman: This leads to Gadhafi's doorstep

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Moments after the verdicts were released, Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the bombing and who has been instrumental in leading the British campaign for justice, collapsed in court and was taken away by paramedics.

There were gasps from some of the relatives as Fhimah was declared not guilty.

It took less than two minutes to read the verdicts. Witnesses said the accused listened intently to the verdict through headphones.

Sentence on Megrahi is due to be announced at 1300 GMT.

Libya said it "respected" the decision of the judges, but denied any involvement with the bombing.

Abuzed Dorda, Libya's ambassador to the U.N, told CNN: "Libya will implement the decision, but we look forward to the appeal and then we will watch the result of that."

Susan Cohen, whose 20-year-old daughter was killed in the bombing, said the outcome an "enormous relief."

She told CNN: "There's no way that Libya can now say they weren't involved. That bloody murderer (Libyan leader Moammar) Gadhafi, has destroyed my life."

The brother of another victim said the ruling meant the act of murder led to the “doorstep” of the Libyan.

American Bert Ammerman said the families of the victims “got some justice today.”

He praised the Scottish justice system as “excellent” but said he held Gadhafi personally responsible and he called on the world to take a stand against “state-sponsored terrorism.”

Labour MP for Dumfries Russell Brown, whose constituency includes Lockerbie, said: "I think there will be a degree of relief on the part of many people that a guilty verdict has been secured in all of this.


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"There will be a degree of relief but there will be further issues beyond this now."

Megrahi has two weeks to appeal against the decision, but CNN Senior Correspondent Richard Blystone says an appeal may be launched quickly.

An appeal could last around a year, and it is likely to be up to seven months before the appeal is heard.

It is expected Fhimah will now be handed over to the Dutch authorities, before flying back to Libya.

The decision of the three judges sitting at a special Scottish court in the Netherlands was unanimous. They had three verdicts available to them: Guilty, not guilty or not proven.

Both the accused were ushered into the courtroom wearing traditional Libyan dress and looked calm and collected as the judges took their seats.

The verdicts were read out by presiding judge Lord Sutherland, who was asked by the court clerk if the judges had reached a verdict.

Lord Sutherland answered "guilty" when asked for the verdict in the case of Megrahi.

The judge added that the verdict was subject amending the charge. The charge was then amended by the clerk to delete a reference relating to the delivery of the suitcase containing the bomb to Malta.

But the judges' verdict remains that he was responsible for planting the bomb.

When asked for a verdict on Fhimah, Lord Sutherland replied "not guilty".

Observers say the prosecution relied on largely circumstantial evidence and adopted a risky all-or-nothing strategy of pursuing a single charge of murder.

The Pan Am Boeing 747 aircraft blew up above the Scottish town on December 21, 1988, killing all 259 passengers and crew, and 11 people on the ground.

It was the biggest single act of mass murder in British history.

The 84-day trial, held at the Camp Zeist former U.S. air base, near Utrecht, was conducted under Scottish law.

It is expected that relatives of the British victims, who are still seeking the whole story of who was behind the bombing, will now demand a full public inquiry. In America, a civil case against Libya is planned.

Prosecutors claimed that the bomb was loaded at Malta's Luqa airport onto an Air Malta flight for Frankfurt, West Germany.

From there, the prosecution said it was transferred to a feeder flight to London's Heathrow Airport, where it joined Pan Am 103 bound for New York.

The prosecution said Megrahi, a Libyan agent, brought the bomb to Malta.

The purpose of the attack, according to the prosecution, was to further the purposes of the Libyan intelligence services.

Megrahi's counsel William Taylor said the prosecution had not proven its case that the bomb originated in Malta and that baggage security at Frankfurt airport was sloppier than at Luqa.

Taylor also suggested that a fragment of the timer found after the disaster and used by the prosecution as evidence had been tampered with before it was sent for forensic examination.

More than 230 witnesses were called in the trial over about eight months.

The trial began last May after an agreement between the U.S., Britain and Libya allowed the men to be transferred to the Netherlands.

Now that the verdict has been announced, it is expected that Britain will swiftly review its relations with Libya.

While diplomatic ties between the two nations were fully re-established in 1999, officials said the response of the Libyan Government to the Lockerbie verdict would be key to the future relationship.

Reporter's Notebook: Remembering the Lockerbie tragedy
August 21, 2000
Lockerbie verdict to come on Wednesday
January 30, 2001
Lockerbie trial enters final stages
January 29, 2001
Reporter's Notebook: Justice unlikely to be swift in Lockerbie trial
January 20, 2001
Libyan agent denies bomb link
November 16, 2000
Lockerbie bomb route questioned
January 16, 2001
Defence winds up Lockerbie case
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Lockerbie lawyers seek murder verdicts
January 9, 2001
Lockerbie judges reject acquittal plea
November 29, 2000

Lockerbie Verdict
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal
Scottish Courts
Lockerbie Trial Briefing
Libyan Mission to the U.N.
Pan Am Flight 103

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