Moussa Koussa could face UK private criminal prosecution

April 6, 2011 - 0:0

Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa could face criminal proceedings in a British court for his alleged involvement in IRA bombings within weeks, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

The legal team representing nearly 160 British victims of IRA bomb attacks which used Libyan-supplied Semtex are considering bringing a private prosecution against the former Libyan foreign minister within weeks.
They are looking at both private criminal and civil proceedings against Koussa, who defected to the UK last week and is being questioned by British officials.
A criminal action, which could commence within weeks, could see Koussa charged with multiple charges for murder, conspiracy to cause murder and offences under the counter-terrorism laws.
If criminal charges are accepted by magistrates, they can issue a warrant for the police to arrest Koussa. The Director of Public Prosecutions could then take over the case, if he deems it to be in the public interest.
A civil prosecution would see lawyers seek damages from Koussa on behalf of the victims for loss, wrongful death and “trespass to the person”.
Solicitors at H2O Law, wa London firm which represents the British victims of IRA bombings in Northern Ireland and on mainland Britain between 1983 and 1996, have amassed 10 boxes of documents which they say support their claims against Koussa.
Matthew Jury, a solicitor at H2O Law, told The Daily Telegraph: “We had not anticipated that Moussa Koussa would come to this jurisdiction.
“Now that he has, such considerations are whether to commence private civil and or criminal prosecutions against him and the making of enquiries of his asset position in the UK and elsewhere.”
Jason McCue, a founding partner of the firm, is currently in Benghazi to negotiate with rebels. He said Moussa had been the direct link between Tripoli and the IRA army council, while he worked as a diplomat in his country’s London embassy.
McCue said: “We have spent nearly 20 years gathering evidence and his role in this is unequivocal.”
Libyan intelligence officers had bought the Semtex from Czechoslovakia in the early 1980s and allegedly on Moussa’s order, a Libyan called Nasser Ashour had loaded ships with arms and explosives to send to the IRA.
The Semtex had been used as the charge or in the detonator of every major IRA bomb after 1986, he said, including atrocities in Enniskillen, Manchester, Warrington and Canary Wharf.
“What is absolutely clear is that the IRA didn’t get plastic explosive from anywhere else,” he said.
One ship alone carried two tons of the explosive. An unknown quantity escaped the arms decommissioning process and remains with dissident republican groups.
McCue said it was possible Libya had supplied other terrorist groups across Europe, such as the Eta, Basque separatists.
He said: “You have got to remember that in that period in the 1980s, the IRA was hand in hand with the Basque separatists.”
McCue said he would give advice to the rebel leadership on how to preserve proof of Col Gaddafi’s terrorist attacks against the West.
Any damages in a civil case would run into millions of pounds, which is why the lawyers are looking into Koussa’s foreign-held private wealth.
The lawyers would seek legal aid support to cover the cost of the case, which could be as much as £1million, just for the prosecution.
This happened with the only other comparable case, when the same firm of solicitors took out a private civil action against the men allegedly behind the Omagh bomb.
On Monday, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said Koussa was not detained and had taken part in discussions with officials since his arrival from Libya last week of his own free will.
Koussa was ""not being offered any immunity from British or international justice"", he added. (Source: