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Libyan Charity to Pay Berlin Bomb Victims

August 29, 2003

A Libyan charitable organization has offered to begin negotiations with the families of victims of those killed and injured in the 1986 bombing of the La Belle nightclub in Berlin.

Three people died and hundreds were injured in the 1986 bombing of the La Belle nightclub.Image: AP

The Gaddafi International Foundation for Charitable Organisations, a body headed by the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, announced on Thursday that it intends to compensate victims of the bombing of the “La Belle” nightclub in Berlin in 1986, in which three people died.

In its statement issued in the German capital, the charity called the decision a "gesture of humanity" while insisting that the pledge was not an admission of Libyan state involvement in the attack on the disco which was popular with U.S. soldiers. "This humanitarian initiative is not recognition or acceptance of responsibility for this act from any side whatsoever."

Charity offer independent from government

Muammar Gaddafi
Libyan President Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.Image: AP

The statement from the group's Berlin office added that officials from the charity hope to meet victims and their families to reach a quick and simple solution. However, the foundation declined to detail the specifics of the planned compensation package but a spokesman told Reuters that the payments would not include any money from the Libyan state, adding that the charity, which is led by Saif Al Islam, Colonel Gaddafi's son, is an independent organization.

A group campaigning for compensation for the victims said it welcomed Thursday’s statement. Lawyers representing non-American victims said they were seeking €500,000 for each injured person.

Three died, over 250 injured

The bombing of the La Belle nightclub killed two American soldiers and a Turkish woman, and injured around 250 other party-goers. The attack happened a month after the United States sank two Libyan patrol boats in the Gulf of Sirte.

Washington blamed the attack on Tripoli and launched U.S. air strikes against two Libyan cities 10 days later. After German reunification in 1990. Archives from the Stasi secret services in the former East Germany led investigators to staff at the Libyan embassy in the former communist country. Four people - including three Libyan agents - were convicted in connection with the bombing in 2001.

Lockerbie responsibility accepted

The crashed Pan Am Flight 103, near Lockerbie, Scotland.Image: AP

This latest move follows Libya's acceptance of responsibility on August 14 for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in Scotland. Each of the 270 families affected by the bombing will receive up to $10 million (€9.1 million ) in compensation from the Libyan government.

Tripoli hopes that these recent moves will pave the way for the lifting of United Nations sanctions on Libya, an issue that has already raised objections from France which has demanded that Libya increase the compensation it is paying to the families of those killed in the 1989 bombing of a French airliner.