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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-04-05

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Monday, 5 April, 1999


This daily news round-up is prepared by the Central News Section of the Department of Public Information. The latest update is posted at approximately 6:00 PM New York time.

Latest Developments


HEADLINES

  • Secretary-General 'relieved and gratified' Lockerbie suspects handed over to stand trial in Netherlands.
  • UN backs call by Red Cross for probe into last week's death of aid worker and government officials in Sudan.


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was relieved and gratified by the news that two Libyan nationals accused of the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, had arrived Monday in the Netherlands and were successfully transferred into the custody of the Dutch Government.

According to an agreement reached last summer between the United Kingdom, United States and Libya, the two men suspected of destroying Pan Am flight 103 would stand trial in a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands.

"This development marks a vital step forward in what has been a long ordeal for all involved, especially for the families of the victims, who have suffered an irreparable loss," the Secretary-General said at a news conference in New York.

The Secretary-General said he would inform the Security Council in writing of the hand-over and expected the sanctions against Libya to be immediately suspended.

He said a formal decision by the Security Council to completely lift the sanctions could come 90 days after he submits a report confirming that Libya was no longer involved in international terrorist activities and was also prepared to pay compensation to the victims of the bombing should the two suspects be found guilty.

Calling the United Nations involvement in the handover "critical", the Secretary-General also thanked South African President Nelson Mandela and King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for their assistance and support in working out the transfer of the two suspects, which had been delayed while Libyan authorities sought assurances the men would receive a fair trial.

The Secretary-General said there would be provisions made to ensure an international presence during trial. "I am confident that the two suspects will receive a fair trial by a Scottish court in the Netherlands," Mr. Annan said.

Meanwhile, speaking at a news conference in the Netherlands, United Nations Legal Counsel Hans Corell, who accompanied the two men on the flight from Libya, said there were several legal, political and practical considerations in arranging the handover.

"It was an extraordinary task for those involved to arrange for this trial, " Mr. Corell said.


The UN has endorsed the call by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for a probe into last week's deaths of four Sudanese nationals at the hands of the rebels in southern Sudan.

A statement issued by the Secretary-General's spokesman on Monday said that a Sudanese Red Crescent worker and three government officials died while in the custody of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). The four Sudanese had been detained by the SPLM/A on 18 February as they accompanied an ICRC team on a mission near the southern Sudanese town of Bentiu.

The Secretary-General said that he was deeply distressed by the news of the deaths. "It is particularly disturbing that they died despite numerous appeals to their captors to ensure their physical safety," he said. He added that the deaths illustrated yet again the tragic and urgent need to protect those who are trying to aid the victims of conflicts.

The Secretary-General said that the UN endorsed the call for a full and immediate inquiry into the circumstances surrounding these deaths so that those responsible for such acts may be brought to justice.


For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org


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