"I've assured the family members that there have been no deals," said Lord Hardie, Scotland's senior law officer. "There have been no deals and there will be no deals to hold back any available evidence in this case."
Nearly 200 relatives attended the private meeting Monday in Washington to receive updates on preparations for the trial next February against alleged Libyan agents accused of planting a suitcase bomb on the Pan Am jetliner. The attack killed 270 people, including 189 Americans.
To persuade Libya to turn over the suspects - Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah - the British and U.S. governments agreed to hold the trial at Camp Zeist, Netherlands, 30 miles southeast of Amsterdam. Under a treaty, the camp will be considered Scottish territory for the duration of the trial, which will be conducted under Scottish law.
Susan Cohen of Cape May Court House, N.J., opposes the deal, contending it rewarded Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for turning over the suspects. Like other victims' relatives, Cohen believes Gadhafi ordered the bombing.
"Those two men going on trial could never have acted independently," said Cohen, who lost her 20-year-old daughter, Theodora, in the explosion. "I'm afraid that Gadhafi will come out of this without a scratch."
Her husband, Daniel Cohen, agrees.
|Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, accused Libyan terrorists, have been connected to the Pan Am flight 103 bombing.|
"So what we're being told is, yeah, the big shark is getting away, but here are a couple of minnows for you," he said.
But he also admits his hopes are different from his expectations.
"My expectation is that they will probably give us a crash course on Scottish law from the time of Robert the Bruce to the present day, and we'll get some interesting, you know, some interesting nuts and bolts about the trial itself, but I'm not confident that we're going to get the kind of information and the kind of hope that I'm looking for," Cohen said.
But James Foley, a State Department spokesmn, said officials worked diligently to put pressure on Gadhafi "to allow a fair trial outside Libya."
U.N. Security Council air-and-arms embargoes against Libya were suspended April 5 when the two suspects were handed over for trial in the Netherlands. The council imposed the measures in 1992 to compel Gadhafi to turn the men over.
The United States has said it won't allow sanctions to be lifted entirely until Libya has cooperated with the court proceedings, paid compensation to the families if the men are convicted and demonstrated its renunciation of terrorism.