A Libyan court acquitted two former aides of slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi on Monday of charges connected to the deadly 1988 bombing of a US airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland.
But the two remain, however, in detention in connection with a separate case involving their role in repressing the 2011 rebellion against the slain dictator’s regime, a prosecution official said.
“On behalf of all people, the court decides to acquit Abdelati al-Obeidi and Mohamed Belgassem al-Zwai of all charges against them,” the judge said to shouts of “Long live justice!” from the defendants’ families, an AFP journalist witnessed.
In 1988, a bomb struck Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie killing 270 people in the air and on the ground.
Kadhafi’s regime eventually paid 2.7 billion dollars (2.1 billion euros) in compensation in 2003 as part of a raft of ultimately abortive measures aimed at a rapprochement with the West.
“We are satisfied that the verdict proves that Libyan justice is transparent and equal,” said Sami, a nephew of Obeidi, as he left the courtroom.
Obeidi and Zwai had been accused of mismanaging public funds in compensating families of victims of the Lockerbie bombing.
The prosecution had charged that Obeidi and Zwai were responsible for negotiating settlements with the Lockerbie families and had paid out double the amount originally planned.
However, Seddik al-Sur, a member of the prosecutor’s office, said later on Monday that the two men will be detained as part of an investigation into their involvement in the suppression of the 2011 revolt against Kadhafi.
“Today’s verdict is for a separate case,” he said, referring to the Lockerbie bombing.