Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr says the Lockerbie bombing suspect must face the death penalty.
Barr was U.S. Attorney General when he announced charges against Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi on Dec. 21, 2020. That date marked 32 years since a bomb brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259 people aboard the plane and 11 on the ground.
The Justice Department announced Sunday that Mas’ud had been taken into U.S. custody. Mas’ud appeared in federal court on Monday, charged with an act of international terrorism.
Two other Libyan intelligence officials have been charged in the U.S. for their alleged involvement in the attack, but Mas’ud was the first defendant to appear in an American courtroom for prosecution.
In an interview with the BBC published on Tuesday, Barr said it was appropriate that the trial take place in the U.S. given that 190 of the 270 Lockerbie victims were American.
He said he wanted the first trial – which took place in the Netherlands in 2000 – to be held in the U.S. In that earlier trial, Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi – was eventually found guilty of murder. His co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was found not guilty.
"I wanted it to be tried in the United States as well. And I wanted to pursue the death penalty in the United States," Barr said. "I didn’t want to proceed to Scotland, partly because Scotland would not impose the death penalty."
He added: "Personally, I think terrorists who commit these kinds of atrocities should be executed."
Prosecutors said in court that they would not be pursuing the death penalty because that punishment was not available for those specific crimes when the bombing occurred.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.