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Bin Laden Trail in Third Country?

February 8, 2001

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Pakistan’s military leader has suggested Osama bin Laden, sought by the United States on terrorism charges, be tried in a third country, following the recent Lockerbie trial, an Egyptian newspaper reported Thursday.

Gen. Pervez Musharraf, in an interview with the Al-Ahram daily, compared the case of bin Laden _ who is in hiding in Afghanistan _ to the trial of two Libyans, held in a special court in the Netherlands after a deal between Libya and the United States and Britain.

``Between the American and the Afghan extreme stances, it’s possible that the United States and Afghanistan can choose another country where bin Laden can have a fair trial,″ Musharraf said.

``If that was possible with the Lockerbie case, why not try it again, and even in the same place,″ Musharraf was quoted as saying.

The United States accuses bin Laden of masterminding the bombing of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and has demanded that Afghanistan’s Taliban government hand him over for trial. Twelve Americans were among the 224 people killed in the bombings.

The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Afghanistan’s ruling militia, the Taliban, to press demands that they hand over bin Laden for trial in the United States or a third country.

The Taliban, who rule more than 95 percent of Afghanistan, have rejected the pressure, saying bin Laden can stay in Afghanistan until it is proven that he is involved in terrorist activity.

Musharraf also suggested that the trial could be held in Pakistan or Egypt. Pakistan is one of three countries that recognize the Taliban and is considered its staunchest ally.

Under a U.N.-brokered deal, two Libyans accused in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, were tried in the Netherlands. After a nine-month trial, the Scottish court on Jan. 31 found one of the Libyans guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment for the bombing, which left 270 people dead.

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