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pounds 400M; Lockerbie bomber and Libya sued by insurers for bust US airline Pan Am.

Byline: By NORMAN SILVESTER

THE Lockerbie bomber is being sued for pounds 400 million by Pan Am's insurers.

A record civil action will be raised at the Court of Session this week in Edinburgh against ex-Libyan secret agent Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi.

Insurers acting on behalf of the now-defunct airline want compensation for the money they paid out to the victims of the disaster.

The case is the biggest single damages action ever lodged in a Scottish court.

Megrahi's former co-accused Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, who was acquitted, the Libyan government and Libyan Airlines have also been named in the lawsuit.

Last week, Megrahi, 51, was told at the High Court in Glasgow he must serve at least 27 years before he can be considered for parole.

The action at the Court ofSession has been tabled by Equitas of London, a subsidiary of Lloyd's of London.

The legal move comes 15 years after Pan Am Flight 103 was blown to pieces by a bomb, killing 270 people.

Equitas want to claw back some of the pounds 600 million paid to their families.

They are also trying to recover money on behalf of creditors ofPan Am, who went bust in 1991. Pan Am were sued by the families of the victims, including the 11 residents killed in Lockerbie.

Claims were also made by residents whose homes were damaged.

After the airline folded, power of attorney was transferred to Equitas.

Equitas who have been pursuing Libya and the bombers since the 1990s have hired Edinburgh legal firm Shepperd and Wederburn to represent them.

A spokesman for Equitas said: ``We are continuing to try and pursue our recoveries and the action in the Court of Session is part of that.''

Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi has agreed to pay pounds 1.7 billion compensation to the victims' families after taking responsibility.

Equitas hope a win will put pressure on Libya to pay on behalf of the other parties, including Megrahi.

Yesterday, Dr Iain Scobbie, a lecturer in international law at Glasgow University, said it would be difficult for Equitas to get compensation, even if they win.

He said: ``Under international law, a sovereign state is immune from any action of this kind.''

Megrahi's lawyer, Eddie McKechnie, said he could not comment, as he only represents his client on the criminal charge.

CAPTION(S):

Disaster: Megrahi and the plane
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 30, 2003
Words:393
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