Timeline of the Lockerbie Case

Published April 02, 2001

| Associated Press

Key events since the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103:

Dec. 21, 1988: A bomb inside a Samsonite suitcase blows a hole in the fuselage of a Pan Am airliner as it flies over Lockerbie, Scotland, en route to New York with 259 passengers and crew. The aircraft plunges six miles to earth, killing everyone onboard and 11 Lockerbie residents. 

Nov. 14, 1991: After years of suspicions pointing to Iran and Syria, U.S. and British authorities return indictments for two alleged Libyans intelligence operatives, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah. 

Jan. 21, 1992: U.N. Security Council demands that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi hand over suspects. 

April 15, 1992: Security Council imposes sanctions on air travel and arms sales to Libya. 

March 23, 1995: United States posts $4 million reward for capture of suspects. 

Aug. 5, 1996: President Clinton orders sanctions against foreign companies that invest in Libya. 

April 5, 1999: Al-Megrahi and Fhimah surrender for trial and U.N. suspends sanctions after a trial venue is chosen in the Netherlands. 

Feb. 2, 2000: Defense lawyers enter innocent pleas for the defendants at pretrial hearing in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

May 3: Trial begins at Camp Zeist. British investigators and Lockerbie residents begin testifying about the explosion and the recovery of debris. 

June 19-27: Edwin Bollier, owner of a Swiss electronics firm, testifies that he sold timers used in bomb detonators to Libya. He says Al-Megrahi negotiated the deal on behalf of the Libyan intelligence service. Defense lawyers say Bollier is "mired completely in a web of deceit, cunning and lying." 

July 11: Tony Gauci, proprietor of Mary's House, a clothing boutique in Malta, testifies that a man resembling Al-Megrahi purchased men's and baby apparel and an umbrella from his shop in December 1988. Charred bits of the clothing had been found in the wreckage and traced to the source of the blast. Defense suggests Gauci mistook Al-Megrahi for a Palestinian terrorist jailed in Sweden. 

July 25: Kurt Maier, the x-ray machine operator at Frankfurt airport, is declared unfit to give evidence after he is found unconscious in his apartment surrounded by bottles of alcohol. Prosecutors later say the Lockerbie bomb slipped through Frankfurt security for transfer to Flight 103 in London while Maier was on duty. 

Sept. 26-28: A CIA double agent testifies he saw the men on the eve of the explosion smuggling a suspicious suitcase through customs. Also says defendants stashed explosives at the Libyan Arab Airlines office at Malta's Luqa airport. Defense alleges the Libyan defector invented the information after the CIA threatened to fire him. 

Nov. 14-15: Egyptian-born Palestinian terrorist Mohammed Abu Talb admits he bombed a Danish synagogue in 1985, but denies defense allegations of his involvement in the destruction of Flight 103. 

Nov. 20: Scottish Crown prosecutors close their case. 

Dec. 5: Defense case opens. A request for documents from Syria forced a one-month adjournment. 

Jan. 8, 2001: Al-Megrahi scraps plans to testify in his own defense after Syria refuses to hand over information. Defense case concludes after only three witnesses. 

Jan. 18: After a week of closing arguments, judges retire to consider the verdict. 

Jan. 31: A Scottish court finds al-Megrahi guilty of murder. Fhimah was found innocent. Both decisions were unanimous.

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