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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Statement on the Hand-over of the Pan Am 103 Suspects
Washington, DC, April 5, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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I am very pleased with the news that today two persons accused of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 are in the custody of Dutch authorities. The two were delivered by the United Nations. Legal proceedings will now take place in accordance with the US-UK initiative to bring the suspects to trial before a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands.

This bombing, which killed 270 people, including 189 Americans, provoked international outrage. It has taken ten years of efforts by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom, with the support of many of our allies and friends, to bring the suspected criminals to justice.

I am especially thankful for the repeated intervention, including travel to Libya, by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who worked tirelessly to implement the Security Council Resolutions. We are also appreciative of the efforts of South African President Nelson Mandela, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah and the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Bandar, and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.

The turnover of these two suspects marks an important milestone in achieving legal accountability for this outrageous crime. First, I want to commend the effort and energy of those British and American officials who led the investigation, a difficult, painstaking process that took nearly 2 years to piece together a trail leading to these Libyan suspects. Second, the counter-terrorism strategy, initiated by the Bush Administration and pursued by the Clinton Administration, has used carefully targeted multilateral sanctions and international opprobrium to compel Libya to surrender the suspects. Diplomacy, especially in coordination with close friends and allies, can be one of the most valuable tools in our arsenal against terror, and this case proves it.

Third, in an extraordinary measure of international efforts to achieve justice, the U.K. and the Netherlands agreed to provide for a Scottish trial in the Netherlands, an initiative we supported. I want to thank Foreign Secretary Cook and the Dutch government for their determined efforts to bring the matter to this important turning point. I especially commend the enormous behind-the-scenes work of the State and Justice Department legal team, and their UK counterparts.

But most important, today is a day to remember the victims and families of Pan Am 103, to whom we have all made a promise that justice would be served. As Secretary of State, nothing has had greater personal effect on me than the pain that our families have suffered. I promised them I would work to bring the accused to trial and I am grateful that we were able to do so. Now, we begin a new phase in the long journey to justice. I hope it will bring a measure of comfort to those who have suffered so much as a consequence of this horrendous act of terrorism.

[End of Document]

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