Sue Irish in US, says Libyan minister

Wed, Sep 9, 2009, 01:00

IRISH-AMERICANS should be sued for giving money to the IRA since the 1970s if Libya is to face demands for tens of millions worth of damages for sending Semtex and weaponry a decade later, a senior Libyan minister said last night.

Abdulati Alobidi, Libya’s minister for European affairs, ruled out any possibility that Libya will make an out-of-court settlement with the families of IRA bomb victims suing for compensation.

During an interview in Tripoli, Mr Alobidi insisted that Libya would not negotiate with the families who launched a class-action case two years and who have received backing from a cross-party group of House of Commons MPs, including Democratic Unionist Jeffrey Donaldson.

Objecting to the legal action against his country, he said: “To come to blame us – send them first to trial.

“Go to the Irish-Americans who were giving them money to even buy arms.

“Why Libya? We will not negotiate with the government. If any citizen, any victim, wants to go to court here or there, we will have to defend ourselves through our lawyers,” he told Channel 4.

Mr Donaldson will be one of a number of MPs to travel to Libya next month, assisted by foreign office officials, but Mr Alobidi said his government would not meet them.

On Monday Jason McCue, the London-based lawyer leading the families’ class-action case, expressed strong confidence that the Libyans would agree to a damages deal within weeks.

Mr Alobidi indicated that Libya would mount its own legal action to sue the UK over the 1986 attack by American bombers on Libyan leader Muammar Gadafy’s home, which killed his daughter, if the families’ action continues.

“If there is this issue officially with us [over the IRA attacks], we will also put that raid in which they participated against Libya, against the house of the leader and killing his daughter, on the table.

“We will not negotiate with the government. If any citizen, any victim, wants to go to court here or there, we will have to defend ourselves through our lawyers,” said Mr Alobidi.