TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) – A Libyan charity said yesterday it would
increase payments to families of those killed in a 1989 terror
attack on a French airliner, a gesture Libya hopes will persuade
France to agree to lift U.N. sanctions.

In a statement yesterday, the Gadhafi International Association
for Charitable Organizations said a private “fund for the victims
of terrorism” it had established would pay unspecified compensation
to the families of the 170 victims of the French UTA airliner
explosion over the Niger desert.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin indicated France
might now be ready to see U.N. sanctions lifted.

“We have always said that we uphold the principle of lifting
sanctions, and of course we will be drawn very quickly toward a
decision,” de Villepin said on RFI radio.

Neither de Villepin nor Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi gave
details of the compensation deal.

Francoise Rudetzki, head of a French advocacy group that helped
victims’ relatives, said payments would not be on par with the $2.7
billion Libya recently agreed to pay for another attack – the 1988
Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Under that agreement, families of the 270 victims will each
receive between $5 million and $10 million.

France was embarrassed by the Lockerbie accord: In comparison,
the families of the 170 UTA victims shared a much smaller $33
million settlement under a 1999 agreement with Libya, getting about
$194,000 each.

The foundation has played a major role in efforts to clean up
the Libyan leader’s image. It portrayed yesterday’s agreement as a
humanitarian gesture.

The Gadhafi foundation added without elaboration that the
compensation agreement also would “resolve” the cases of six
Libyans convicted by a French court in absentia in 1999 of bombing
the plane and sentenced to life in prison. Libya never extradited
the six and the foundation maintained yesterday that the six were
innocent.

Libya accepted responsibility for Lockerbie and handed over two
of its citizens. In 2001, a Scottish court convicted a Libyan
intelligence agent of the Lockerbie bombing and sentenced him to
life imprisonment. A second Libyan was acquitted.

The Lockerbie agreement opened the way for Libya to be freed
from U.N. sanctions that limited arms and oil equipment sales, air
travel and diplomatic links to the north African country.

The French government had threatened to block a British proposal
to lift the sanctions, saying it wanted a better deal for the UTA
victims’ relatives.

 

 

 

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