Police officer stands near the wreckage of the 747 Pan Am airliner
London - Arab Today
Scottish prosecutors said Thursday they had identified two new Libyan suspects in the bombing of a Pan Am jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, which killed 270 people.
Scottish and US officials agree "there is a proper basis in law... to treat two Libyans as suspects in the continuing investigation into the bombing of flight Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie," according to a statement released by prosecutors.
"The two individuals are suspected of involvement, along with Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi," it added.
Megrahi, a former intelligence officer who died three years ago, was jailed over the bombing in 2001. He is the only person ever convicted of the crime.
Scotland's chief legal officer on Thursday issued a formal letter to the Libyan attorney general in Tripoli, which identifies the suspects and calls for cooperation.
"The Lord Advocate and the US Attorney General are seeking the assistance of the Libyan judicial authorities for Scottish police officers and the FBI to interview the two named suspects in Tripoli," the statement said.
The head of investigations department at the Libyan Attorney General office in Tripoli declined to comment to AFP.
Scottish media named one of the two suspects as former intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi, who was sentenced to death in July for crimes during the 2011 uprising against Moamer Kadhafi. Senussi has been in custody in Libya since 2012.
The second person was named by Scottish media as Abu Agila Mas’ud, a bomb expert, who featured in a recent US documentary by Ken Dornstein, the brother of one of the Lockerbie victims. He is also reportedly in Libyan custody.
The Scottish government released Megrahi on compassionate grounds in 2009 after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He died in Libya in 2012 still protesting his innocence.
- 'Who murdered our families?' -
Family members of the victims welcomed the development.
"I'm delighted that they are doing this -- we the American families have been pressing and pressing for the bombing to be properly investigated," US citizen Susan Cohen, whose daughter Theodora was 20 when she was killed in the attack, told Britain's ITV news.
"The governments have been dragging their feet and they should have been looking for other people involved, because it wasn't just Megrahi."
Jim Swire, a spokesman for the families of the British victims, said there was still uncertainty over Megrahi's role and the involvement of the Libyan state.
"If there is material that shows other people were involved then we want to know," Swire said. "We want to know who murdered our families."
Libya admitted responsibility for the bombing in 2003 and the regime of slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi eventually paid $2.7 billion (2.4 billion euros) in compensation to victims' families as part of a raft of measures aimed at a rapprochement with the West.
The attack took place two years after the United States conducted a series of air strikes against Libya that nearly killed Kadhafi and some observers believe it was a form of retaliation.
The air strikes were themselves a response to the bombing in 1986 of a Berlin disco popular with US military personnel in which three people were killed.
The US blamed the Libyan government for that attack.
All 259 people on board the Pan Am flight -- most of them Americans heading from London to New York for Christmas -- were killed, along with 11 people on the ground in Scotland.
Since the fall of the Kadhafi regime in 2011, British and US detectives have travelled to Libya to investigate whether other perpetrators can be identified.