Libyan rebels apologise to families of IRA victims
Published 06/04/2011 | 16:29
Rebels in Libya have apologised to the families of people killed or injured by IRA bombs boosted by Semtex supplied by Colonel Gaddafi.
The Government of Free Libya, an interim authority which has its headquarters in the embattled town of Benghazi, made the historic announcement to lawyers representing almost 160 victims last night.
The apology came as the former Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa faces a possible private prosecution over claims he sanctioned the move to supply Semtex to republican terrorists during the 1980s and 90s.
Jason McCue from London-based H2O Law, the firm which successfully sued four men over the 1998 Omagh bomb, is currently in Benghazi negotiating with rebels to secure more evidence against Mr Koussa.
He warned that large amounts of Libyan supplied Semtex which was unaccounted for after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 may have fallen into the hands of dissident republicans and may have been used to in the bomb that killed Constable Ronan Kerr last Saturday.
“I would not be surprised if Omagh was Libyan Semtex. The IRA connection with Libya goes back to the 1970s when Irish paramilitaries were trained in the Libyan desert. Gaddafi started sending shipments of Semtex, originating from then Czechoslovakia, in the mid-1980s, McCue said.
“There were tonnes of Semtex. Gaddafi was waging war on the United Kingdom in this way.”
The human rights lawyer also claimed Mr Koussa — who defected to the UK last week — was the direct link between Tripoli and the IRA army council when he worked as a diplomat in the Libyan embassy in London.
Mr McCue said: “His role in this is unequivocal.”
He described last night’s apology as a step forward.
“It’s a clear turning point,” he said.
Victims — including campaigner Willie Frazer and Michelle Williams, who lost her parents in the Shankill Road bomb — are expected to launch a private civil or criminal action against Moussa Koussa within weeks. Their legal teams have already amassed a cache of 10 boxes of evidence.
A civil prosecution would be relatively straightforward, with the lawyers seeking damages from Koussa on behalf of victims for loss, wrongful death and “trespass to the person”. Under a private criminal prosecution, Mr Koussa would face multiple charges for murder, conspiracy to cause murder and offences under the counter-terrorism laws.
Libyan-supplied Semtex is believed to have been used in bombings such as Enniskillen, Warrington and Manchester and Canary Wharf.
Manya Dickinson from Kilkeel, whose father was killed by the IRA because he supplied building materials to the British Army, said she cannot move on until justice has been done.
She said: “He might as well have planted the bomb that killed my father. That’s the man who supplied the IRA. And the British Government are welcoming him. We seem to have been forgotten about and we are expected to be quiet.
“How are we supposed to move on?”
”They have to be held accountable in some way. This is the only way at the minute that we see that we can.”
Lawyers representing families of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing also want to speak to Mr Koussa.
The British Government said he has not been granted immunity from prosecution.