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Lockerbie bombing suspect makes first appearance in US court


Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’oud, suspected of having made the bomb who destroyed a passenger plane over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 and killed 190 Americans, made his first appearance in US federal court on Monday.

When Mas’ud entered the federal courtroom, he saw the families of his alleged victims face to face. Thirty-four years ago, in December 1988, Pan Am Flight 103, traveling from London to New York, exploded over Lockerbie, killing all 259 people aboard the plane and 11 on the ground during its the deadliest terrorist attack on British soil.

Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud, suspected of making the bomb that destroyed an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, appears in federal court in DC, December 12, 2022.

Courtroom sketch by William J. Hennessy, Jr.

In his first court appearance, the limping Mas’ud wore the Alexandria Sheriff’s Jail uniform and a white face mask. He removed the mask during the hearing. Mas’ud communicated with Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather and a Virginia public defender through an interpreter. The public defender said Mas’ud informed her that he wanted to hire his own lawyer and asked for a week to do so.

A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., was indicted on three counts: two counts of destroying an aircraft causing death and one count of destroying a vehicle used in commerce outside with an explosive, resulting in death. The indictment comes two years after Mas’ud, a 71-year-old Libyan national born in Tunisia, was first charged with involvement in the terror attack.

Each charge carries a maximum sentence of life or death in prison, but prosecutors said in court they would not seek the death penalty because it was not permitted under federal law at the time the alleged crime has been committed.

Mas’ud will be detained pending a hearing later this month. In court on Monday, prosecutors urged the judge to keep the alleged bomb designer behind bars, saying “countless families have never fully recovered” from his actions.


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