German and Libyan negotiators on Tuesday reached a settlement deal to compensate the victims of a 1986 terrorist bombing in Berlin that killed three.
Two Americans and one Turk were killed in the La Belle bombing
The Libyan Embassy in Berlin confirmed Tuesday that negotiators had reached a settlement deal for the victims and survivors of the April 1986 discotheque bombing at the "La Belle" club in Berlin's Schöneberg neighborhood.
According to the embassy, chief negotiator Said Abdulaati said Libya was prepared to make compensation payments in the case totaling $35 million (€28.4 million). Of that, $1 million would go to the family of a Turkish woman killed in the bombing. The remaining money would go to the 164 mostly German survivors of the attack, with the denominations of each settlement to be determined by the severity of the injury.
Move will improve Berlin-Tripoli relations
On Tuesday night, the office of German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder greeted the deal, saying it would "make possible the further expansion and strengthening of German-Libyan relations." Schröder's spokesman, Béla Anda, said: "The federal government and German businesses are ready to support Libya in the modernization of its economy." The countries are soon expected to sign a bilateral agreement on international investment, and a German-Libyan economic forum is planned for November that will bring business and political leaders from both countries together in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. Anda said Schröder plans to visit Libya soon as a result of the deal.
Richard George, a former U.S. soldier and barkeeper in the West Berlin discotheque "La Belle", one of the survivors of the bombing, is seen after the pronouncement of judgement of the La Belle revision in Leipzig, eastern Germany, on June 24, 2004.
The deal came after German and Libyan negotiators met this week for a new round of talks on compensating people hurt in the 1986 bombing. The settlement had been seen as vital to establishing Libya's place in the diplomatic fold.
The last round of negotiations, which have been held intermittently for about a year, ended without success in July.
Attack targeted US soldiers
Firemen search through debris after the bomb attack.
The bombing at the "La Belle" discotheque, which was frequented by US servicemen, in then-West Berlin killed two GIs and a Turkish woman and wounded more than 250 people. Former US President Ronald Reagan immediately blamed Libya and ordered air strikes on its capital, Tripoli.
The American victims and their families are still negotiating a separate settlement with the Libyans.
In 2001, a German court sentenced four people to up to 14 years in prison and ruled that Libya was partially responsible for the attack. Tripoli has never accepted blame.
The Gadhafi Foundation, chaired by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's son Saif al-Islam, offered last August to compensate the victims, but differences remained until Tuesday over the payouts for the wounded and for the family of the woman killed.
This story was originally published on Aug. 10, 2004.