Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Libya: group of Lockerbie families want end to Libyan sanctions

Months ago, Libya reached a deal with the families of the 270 victims of the Lockerbie bombing, offering $10 million per victim. The families received $4 million in September when the UN ended its sanctions against Libya. According to the deal, of the remaining $6 million, the familes will receive:
- $4 million when the US lifts its economic sanctions against Libya
- $2 million when the US takes Libya off the list of nations supporting terrorism

The deal on the remaining $6 million expires on July 22.

According to this story in today's New York Times, a majority of the families want the US to lift the sanctions against Libya ... and will send representatives to DC tomorrow to lobby for that very thing.
James P. Kreindler, who represented 120 of the families in the negotiations with Libya, said relatives of 230 victims had signed a recent letter to President Bush, urging that sanctions be lifted. The letter, which he said he drafted at the request of an association of Pan Am families, was sent before the death of President Reagan and the report that Libya might be involved in a plot to kill the Saudi prince.

"There is a growing sense that even with these events of the last week, sooner or later these last sanctions are going to be removed and Libya will come off the list of state sponsors of terrorism," Mr. Kreindler said in a telephone interview on Monday.

The letter said the amount still held in escrow for the families was larger than the Libyan assets in this country that would be unblocked by the lifting of sanctions.

"Thus, we are faced with the ironic circumstance in which Libya stands to gain more by the continued blocking of its assets than if its assets were timely unblocked," the letter said. "Libya's enrichment in this regard, should it occur, would be made all the more difficult to understand if Libya's assets were unblocked and the other commercial sanctions were lifted within days, weeks or months after July 22."

[...] Among the families, one of the strongest critics of lifting sanctions is Dan Cohen, of Cape May Courthouse, N.J., whose only child, Theodora, was killed when the Boeing 747 exploded on Dec. 21, 1988. The structure of the deal, Mr. Cohen said, has turned the relatives into Libyan agents. The Pan Am 103 families, he said, "are now being enlisted to lobby for murderers."

[...]He and his wife, Susan, will accept no Libyan money conditioned on lifting sanctions, he said.