Lockerbie bombing suspect to appear in US court

Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi pictured in US custody.
Libyan-born Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi is alleged to have helped make the bomb. Credit: ITV News

The man suspected of building the bomb that downed Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988 – killing 270 people – will appear in court in the US today, Wednesday 8 February.

Libyan-born Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi is alleged to have helped make the bomb which killed all 259 passengers and crew on board the jumbo jet bound to New York from London, on December 21, 1988.

Another 11 people were killed in Lockerbie when wreckage destroyed their homes, in what remains Britain's deadliest terrorist attack. Of the victims, 190 were Americans.

The hearing will outline the charges against him, including destruction of an aircraft resulting in death.  A previous hearing in December 2022 heard that Mas’ud will not face the death penalty because the bombing occurred before the specific charges which he faces carried a possible penalty of capital punishment.

Prosecutors say that in a confession extracted more than 10 years ago, while he was in custody in Libya on unrelated charges, he admitted to setting the timer for the bomb.

A police officer walks past the wreckage in Lockerbie, Scotland. Credit: AP

In December, the US Justice Department announced that Mas'ud had been taken into custody, two years after it revealed that it had charged him in connection with the explosion.

Two other Libyan intelligence officials have been charged in the US for their alleged involvement in the attack, but Mas'ud was the first defendant to appear in an American courtroom for prosecution.

In 2020, Mas’ud was charged by the US Attorney General William Barr with being the third person involved in the terrorist attack.

At the time, he was said to be in Libyan custody and Mr Barr said US authorities would work "arm in arm" with their Scottish counterparts.

Mr Barr said: "Let there be no mistake, no amount of time or distance will stop the US and our Scottish partners from pursuing justice in this case."

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