Libyans Protest Lockerbie Verdict

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Police used tear gas and nightsticks to clear away protesters Tuesday as thousands of Libyans rallied outside the U.N. building and the British Embassy demanding freedom for the man convicted in the Lockerbie trial.

A crowd of protesters outside the U.N. building — scene of demonstrations ever since the Jan. 31 verdict — carried a coffin emblazoned "American civilization means killing children," symbolizing the victims of a 1986 U.S. raid on Libya.

Some fought security guards in an attempt to get into the U.N. building. At least seven people who managed to jump over the fence were arrested.

A squad of 120 police reinforcements tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas. The protesters hurled stones at the police, who used nightsticks to clear the street in front of the building.

Thousands of other protesters also converged on the British Embassy, which was reopened after Libya surrendered the Lockerbie suspects. Police formed a ring around the building to keep protesters away.

In both demonstrations, protesters burned American flags and chanted slogans such as "To hell again with America and Britain!" and "We will not forget our martyrs!"

Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi was convicted by a Scottish court and sentenced him to life in prison for planting the bomb that destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.

His co-defendant, Lameen Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted last week in the bombing that killed 270 people.

Libyan officials have accused the West of disregarding the 37 people killed in U.S. airstrikes on Libya in 1986, including the adopted daughter of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The United States and Britain pressed for the Libyans' trial, and the United Nations played a central role in the negotiations that led to the suspects' handover in 1999. They were tried by a special Scottish court on Dutch soil.

A banner outside the building read: "Abdel-Basset is a kidnapped hostage. Where are human rights?"

State-run television interrupted its regular programming to broadcast the protests with a subtitle saying: "Demonstrations of anger throughout the towns and villages of the great republic, demanding the release of the hostage, Libyan citizen Abdel-Basset."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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