On Tuesday, the former Libyan First Deputy President of the General National Congress, lawyer Jumaa Ahmed Ateega announced that he would voluntarily defend, Abu Ajila Masoud.
Masoud is a former Libyan intelligence officer, who was extradited by the Government of National Unity (GNU) to the US earlier this week. He is allegedly involved in making the bomb that downed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.
On Monday, Masoud appeared in a US courtroom, according to a statement issued by the US Department of Justice.
US Attorney General, Merrick B. Garland said the “relentless efforts over the past three decades led to the indictment and arrest of Abu Ajila for his alleged role in building the bomb used in the attack.”
“The defendant is currently in US custody and is facing charges in the United States. This is an important step forward in our mission to honour the victims, and pursue justice on behalf of their loved ones,” Garland added.
“I cannot talk before I see my attorney,” Masoud told US Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather, speaking through an interpreter, according to Reuters.
“Today’s action is another crucial step in delivering justice for the victims of the senseless terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco.
“The progress we have made would not have been possible without the hard work and determination of the men and women of the FBI, and the Justice Department, and the assistance of our Scottish partners. My thoughts today are focused on those lost and their loved ones, as the work to achieve justice continues,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Libyan National Security Adviser, Ibrahim Bushnaf revealed that the National Security Council is “currently in contact with the American side to find out the legal status of the Libyan citizen, Abu Ajila Masoud, and on what basis he is being investigated.”
“What we are discussing with officials in Washington is not the statute of limitations in litigation, but we affirm the agreement ratified by both parties that ended the dispute, and closed the door to returning to it again. If the American side argues that the right to litigation does not lapse by a statute of limitations, then we confirm what the whole world confirms, that ratified international agreements are superior to local legislation,” Bushnaf added.
“We are communicating, in our capacity as the National Security Council, with the government and everyone in Libya, to find out the circumstances of this case, and who reopened it. Our focus now is on the United States of America to abide by the agreement that ended the conflict, and was ratified by Congress with a proposal made by then-Rep, Joe Biden, the current President, and issued by a Presidential decree signed by President George W. Bush,” Bushnaf added.
Meanwhile, the Libyan Parliament called on the Attorney General, Al-Siddiq Al-Sour to begin criminal proceedings against those involved in the kidnapping and extradition of Libyan national, Abu Ajila Masoud to the US.