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Special Event

State Department Spokesman Speaks on Lockerbie Outcome

Aired January 31, 2001 - 1:05 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go immediately now to Washington, to the State Department, spokesman Richard Boucher speaking with reporters there -- let's listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: ... 103. We also offer our thanks and our respect for all the work that they have done to keep this issue moving and to pursue justice in this situation. Obviously, nothing can undo the suffering that they have undergone because of this act of terrorism.

We certainly welcome the decision of the court that found Mohammed Abdel Basset al-Megrahi guilty of murder. The verdict is based on the court's finding that the defendant, a high-ranking agent of Libya's Jamahiriya security organization, that he caused an explosive device to detonate on board Pan Am Flight 103, thereby murdering the flight's 259 passengers and crew, as well as 11 residents of Lockerbie, Scotland.

In their written opinion, the judges stated that they accepted the evidence that al-Megrahi was a member of the Jamahiriya security organization, that he occupied posts of fairly high rank. The judges further stated that there is nothing in the evidence which leaves them with any reasonable doubt as to the guilt of al-Megrahi.

This conviction was by a unanimous decision of the three judges of the court. This verdict is a victory for the international effort that resulted in the indictment of a member of the Libyan intelligence services and the government of Libya must take responsibility.

The verdict confirms the results of a joint investigation that was undertaken by Scottish police and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. The decision vindicates the extraordinary efforts of the international community and of the families of the victims of the Pan Am 103 bombing to achieve justice for the victims of this crime.

Thanks go also to the British and the Dutch government and others who assisted in making the trial possible.

The United States has made clear to the government of Libya that the issuance of a verdict against the two suspects of the Pan Am 103 trial does not in itself signify an end to UN sanctions against Libya. UN Security Council resolutions call on Libya to satisfy specific outstanding requirements before the sanctions can be lifted. Those elements include ending support for all terrorist activities, acknowledging responsibility for the actions of its officials, disclosing all it knows of the crime and paying appropriate compensation.

As we have said all along, the government of Libya must take responsibility for the actions of Libyan officials. That means revealing everything they know about the Lockerbie bombing, paying reparations, a clear declaration acknowledging responsibility for the actions of the Libyan officials and clear unambiguous actions which demonstrate the Libyan government understands this responsibility.

I would note also that the United States maintains unilateral sanctions on Libya that predate the bombing of Pan Am 103. The sanctions will remain in effect even if UN sanctions were lifted and/or reviewed. Our sanctions are reviewed as appropriate on a case- by-case basis.

OK, that's the basic lay of the land. Happy to take your questions on this or other questions.

CHEN: All right, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher speaking before reporters in a conference, news conference, this afternoon, talking about the government satisfaction in the conviction of Al-Megrahi, one of the defendants in the Pan Am 103 case, saying that it offered some vindication for families -- but pointing out in the end there, in a short statement, that Libya does not -- should not see this as justification to end the sanctions against it, saying that the nation of Libya will have to understand that it still needs to satisfy all the conditions of the U.N. resolutions that brought the sanctions against Libya into place before those sanctions could be lifted.

Again, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher speaking before reporters in Washington this afternoon.

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