The arraignment of a Libyan intelligence operative, suspected of making the bomb that blew up Pan Am flight 103 was deferred on Wednesday. This was due to delays and challenges in securing a defense attorney, according to Reuters.
Abu Ajila Masoud, 71, is the suspect to face criminal charges in the United States. He is due to be arraigned on 8 February, and a judge set a detention hearing for 23 February.
The bomb exploded aboard a Boeing 747 over Lockerbie as it flew from London to New York in December 1988. All 259 people on board were killed, and another 11 people died on the ground.
According to Reuters, US Magistrate Judge, Moxila Upadhyaya formally appointed federal public defender, Whitney Minter to represent Masoud on Wednesday. This came after his family was unable to retain a defence lawyer on their own.
Minter said Masoud “has no substantial assets and has not been employed for a decade. He makes mortgage payments on a home in Libya, and his children help cover his living and medical expenses.”
She requested additional time to review the indictment with him, before entering a plea or addressing the government’s request to keep him detained pending trial.
The Justice Department has alleged that Masoud confessed his crimes to a Libyan law enforcement official, in September 2012.
It took many years for the FBI to piece together enough evidence, before he could be apprehended and extradited to the United States.
In 1991, two other Libyan intelligence operatives, Abdel-Baset Ali Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, were charged in the bombing.
At a Scottish trial before a court at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, Megrahi was found guilty of the bombing in 2001 and was jailed for life. He was later released on compassionate grounds, and died at his home in Tripoli in 2012 after suffering from cancer.
Fhimah was acquitted of all charges, but Scottish prosecutors have maintained that Megrahi did not act alone.