Britain’s surprise decision to support a lawsuit against Libya by Irish Republican Army victims raised hopes that thousands who were maimed or lost relatives in IRA bombings might receive compensation one day from the oil-rich nation.
Libya admits it shipped hundreds of tons of weaponry to the IRA in the mid-1980s, in particular the plastic explosive Semtex, a key ingredient of the outlawed group’s biggest and deadliest bombs. Lawyers say they expect the regime of Moammar Kadafi to pay $16 million to each member on their growing list of IRA victims.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has come under withering criticism over Scotland’s Aug. 20 release of a Libyan who was the only person convicted of the 1988 Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, announced Sunday night that his government would change course and provide Foreign Office support for IRA victims who were seeking face-to-face meetings next month with Libyan leaders as they pursued their lawsuit.
Kadafi’s son Saif responded that his government would permit the British lawsuit access to Libyan courts -- but would mount a stern defense.