U.S. lawyer meets Flight 103 suspects


WASHINGTON -- Two Libyans accused of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988 have met in Tripoli with a leading Washington criminal defense attorney, a sign that Libya is taking steps that could bring them to trial in the United States.

Any break in the deadlock over Libya's surrendering the two defendants, along with four other Libyans sought in the 1989 bombing of a French airliner over the Sahara, could lead to the lifting of sanctions the U.N. Security Council imposed against Libya.

The two suspects met this month with defense attorney Plato Cacheris. Mr. Cacheris said that he sought to allay fears they voiced about being tortured by U.S. authorities.

A Department of State official said that despite Mr. Cacheris' meetings, "We are very skeptical of any Libyan offer. They have made repeated offers in the past, since last November, and have never acted on them. We have seen no flexibility."

On several occasions, Libyan leader Muammar el Kadafi and other Libyan officials have indicated that they were ready to surrender the suspects to intermediaries, but then they have either reneged or imposed conditions that were deemed unacceptable.

Mr. Cacheris, whose clients have included Watergate defendants, Oliver North's secretary Fawn Hall and a figure in the BCCI international banking scandal, said that he had not been officially retained to represent either man at this point.

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