(54)  Lockerbie trial: enter the accused

As expected (see No 52 below), on 5 April 1999 the two Libyans accused of planting the bomb aboard the Pam Am jet which exploded over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988 (Abdel Baset Ali Mohamed Al Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah) were given over to the custody of Scottish authorities at Kamp van Zeist near Utrecht in the Netherlands. On 6 April they were accused of murder and remanded in custody before Sheriff Graham Cox, and committed for a trial which will take place in the Netherlands before three Scottish judges and in accordance with Scots law. The prosecution is expected to apply for an extension to the 110-day rule, under which the trial would normally commence within that period. News is still awaited of which three judges will be appointed to hear the case, together with the name of a fourth to act as substitute in the event of death or illness of one of the appointed three (which will twist on its head the footballing phrase for substitution, coming off the bench). (6 April 1999)