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Prosecutors seek two new Libyan suspects over Lockerbie bombing

Scottish prosecutors say they have identified two Libyans as suspects involved in the bombing of a passenger jet over Lockerbie 27 years ago. Only one person has ever been convicted over the attack, which killed 270.

Prosecutors said Thursday they had sent a formal request to Libyan authorities to allow police from Scotland and the United States to interview the two suspects in Tripoli.

A statement from Scotland's Crown Office said lead prosecutors had agreed that "there is a proper basis in law in Scotland and the United States to entitle Scottish and US investigators to treat two Libyans as suspects in the continuing investigation into the bombing."

Pan Am flight 103 was blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988, en route from London to New York. The Boeing 747 exploded midair some 40 minutes after leaving Heathrow Airport, killing all 259 people on board and 11 more on the ground. Many of the victims were Americans flying home for Christmas.

In 2001, former Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was found guilty of planting the bomb and given a life sentence. He remains the only person ever convicted over the bombing. The two new suspects, whose names have not been made public, are accused of helping al-Megrahi carry out the attack.


Prosecutors believe Megrahi had help in carrying out the bombing

Questions over guilt

The Scottish government released al-Megrahi in 2009 on compassionate grounds after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Al-Megrahi maintained his innocence right up until his death in Libya in 2012.

Some Scottish families believed he was wrongly convicted. Jim Swire, whose daughter was killed in the bombing, believes al-Megrahi wasn't involved, "so to try to bolt two more names on top of that is a very difficult situation."

He told the BBC that any new suspects would have to be prosecuted with "very much better evidence than was used to achieve the conviction of [al-]Megrahi."

In December last year, Scotland's top prosecutor said no new evidence had emerged to cast doubt on Megrahi's conviction. British and US detectives have traveled to Libya to further investigate possible accomplices, but officials said the chaos that engulfed the country after the fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 has hampered their progress.

nm/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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