' I personally blew up the Lockerbie plane. I've told the

investigating magistrate about it before, but my confession wasn't

documented '

Youssef Shaaban

LAWYERS representing the two Libyans accused of bombing PanAm flight

103 may fly to the Lebanon to interview a Palestinian revolutionary who

has confessed in a Beirut court to the atrocity.

Youssef Shaaban, 29, of Abu Nidal's Fatah Revolutionary Council

faction, made the claim yesterday, during his trial on a charge of

assassinating a Jordanian diplomat in the Lebanese capital in January.

Shaaban told the Judicial Council, Lebanon's supreme criminial court:

''I personally blew up the Lockerbie plane. I've told the investigating

magistrate about it before, but my confession wasn't documented. I say

it again now.''

The PanAm airliner was destroyed over Lockerbie in December, 1988,

causing the deaths of all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground.

However, the Beirut magistrate, Saeed Mirza, denied that Shaaban had

mentioned the Lockerbie disaster.

''It's a mere lie. Had Youssef Shaaban confessed to such a case that

still preoccupies the world, I would have given it utmost priority and

investigated promptly,'' Mirza told the Associated Press news service in


Two Libyans, Abdel Basset Ali Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, who

are both suspected of being members of the Libyan Intelligence service,

have been charged in Britain and the United States in connection with

the bombing. Both countries have demanded that Libya hands over the two

suspects for trial in America or Scotland.

Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi has refused to comply, because of fears

that the men would not receive a fair trial in either country. Libya's

refusal to hand over the men has led to the United Nations Security

Council imposing sanctions against Libya.

Yesterday, Mr Alistair Duff, the Edinburgh lawyer who is a member of

the Libyans' international defence team headed by Tripoli advocate Dr

Ibrahim Legwell, said: ''This is obviously an interesting development.

It will be a matter for discussion with Dr Legwell and the rest of the

legal team and we will be doing our utmost to investigate the man's


''Once we have discussed it within the legal team then we will see

what can be done about interviewing this man. We will obviously be

interested in having him properly interviewed. That may mean a member of

the legal team from Malta or, perhaps, Germany, travelling to Beirut to

see him,'' he added.

However, in the UK, official sources were treating Shaaban's

confession with care. A spokesman for the Crown Office in Edinburgh

said: ''The Lord Advocate has not seen any evidence relating to the

alleged involvement of Youssef Shaaban in the Lockerbie investigation.

''If anyone has any evidence relating to the case they should make it

available to the Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary. The investigation

remains open and we will of course look into anything relevant to the

case but we cannot comment on any investigative steps which may be


A spokesman at the Foreign Office in London said: ''As we have said

many times in the past, we believe there is a case to be answered in a

court in Scotland or the United States by the two Libyans. If anyone has

further information which implicates anyone else, this could be brought

to the attention of the Lord Advocate in Scotland or the US


Dr Jim Swire, a spokesman for the British relatives of Flight 103

victims, told The Herald: ''I think this man's outburst should be

treated as a claim rather than any kind of ex-cathedra statement.''

Dr Swire, whose daughter Flora was one of those killed, added: ''I

don't know why this man should claim to have done such an evil thing,

but he is said to be connected with Abu Nidal group and maybe they think

that they gain some kind of kudos by making claims such as these.''