Libya Criticizes Western Efforts to Bring U.N. Into Bombing Inquest
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Libya’s U.N. ambassador on Thursday criticized Western attempts to use the Security Council to pressure Tripoli to extradite two men charged in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing.
Ali Ahmed Elhouderi said Libya does not oppose trials for the two Libyan suspects in the attack, but will not allow their extradition until more evidence is produced.
″The Security Council should not handle issues like this,″ said Elhouderi. ″It might even jeopardize a fair trial, because what we see so far is: hang them now and try them later.″
Two suspected Libyan intelligence agents, Lamen Khalifa Fhiman and Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi, were indicted in November by Scottish and U.S. authorities for the Dec. 21, 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people. Libya has refused to extradite the suspects, saying they could not get a fair trial in Britain or the United States.
Elhouderi reiterated Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s proposal that both countries could send lawyers and judges to participate in a trial of the two men in Libya.
But he said Libya has received no evidence to support the allegations, and restated Libya’s position it was not involved in the Pan Am bombing.
France has issued arrest warrants for four other Libyans suspected of bombing a French UTA airliner in 1989 over Niger, claiming 170 lives. These suspects have also not been extradited.
The three Western nations - which are permanent members of the Security Council - have asked it to probe Libya’s alleged role in the attacks and possibly impose sanctions until Libya turns over the suspects. The 15-nation Security Council has not yet discussed the issue.
Countering the proposal in a letter Wednesday to U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Libya requested a special session of the General Assembly to examine the roots of terrorism and the ″crises that plague mankind.″
Elhouderi said the Flight 103 allegations are ″a minor fragment″ of the overall issue of international terrorism, which he said included the spread of the AIDS disease.
He said Libya believes the AIDS virus was created by scientists, presumably Americans, in laboratories during the Vietnam War.
″It was done as a kind of weapon to be used in some countries,″ said Elhouderi, who did not present any evidence to back up the claim.
Conspiracy theorists have claimed for several years that the AIDS virus was man-made. At one point in the early 1980s, the Soviet government claimed the disease was invented at an American military hospital.
AIDS researchers say the AIDS virus is far too complex and unique to have been manufactured. Many scientists believe it originated in central or western Africa.