Lockerbie bombing suspect Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi appeared at a federal court hearing Monday in Washington, D.C., grousing about the flu, as he was formally hit with terrorism charges in the horrific December 1988 attack.
The three charges against Mas’ud, 71, include “destruction of aircraft resulting in death,” which carries the death penalty. But prosecutors reportedly contend they don’t plan to pursue death because the punishment wasn’t constitutionally available in 1988.
US Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather told Mas’ud about the criminal counts against him and read him his rights. But Mas’ud didn’t enter a plea, saying he wanted to retain his own counsel.
He also told Meriweather he “took some medication and I have some flu,” an interpreter recounted.
Meriweather set a Dec. 27 hearing to give him time to retain a lawyer.
The brief hearing was the first time a suspect in the case has faced justice on US soil.
Prosecutors alleged the former Libyan intelligence agent flew to Malta with a suitcase bomb to meet his co-conspirators, who instructed him to set a timer on the device ahead of the attack.
The alleged terrorists placed it on the conveyer belt where it was eventually sent to Frankfort before being transferred to the doomed Dec. 21, 1988, flight, according to the criminal complaint.
The explosion on the London to New York-bound plane killed all 259 people aboard, including 190 Americans, as well as 11 people on the ground in the small Scottish town.
Mas’ud, a top bomb-maker for then-Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi, allegedly confessed to the crime in 2012 after the dictator’s regime was dissolved.
Qaddafi had labeled the attack a “total success” and met with Mas’ud afterwards to thank him for “carrying out a great national duty against the Americans,” prosecutors alleged in the complaint that was unsealed Monday.
Federal charges were announced against Mas’ud in December of 2020, but the feds had not been able to take him into custody until Sunday.
Libya does not have an extradition treaty with the US, but the country’s foreign minister had pledged last year to help bring him to justice in the states.
The Department of Justice had asked Interpol to help track down the Mas’ud, according to a Monday press release. He was extradited from his war-torn nation after being kidnapped from his Tripoli residence by armed men last month, Libyan media outlets reported.
Mas’ud is one of three suspects ever charged in connection with the massacre, which remains the second deadliest terror attack against Americans after 9/11.
Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah were tried by a panel of Scottish judges sitting in the Netherlands more than 20 years ago. The former was convicted and the latter was acquitted of all charges.
“Since  American and Scottish law enforcement have worked tirelessly to identify, find, and bring to justice the perpetrators of this horrific attack,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
“Those relentless efforts over the past three decades led to the indictment and arrest of a former Libyan intelligence operative for his alleged role in building the bomb used in the attack, he added, calling the proceedings “an important step forward in our mission to honor the victims and pursue justice on behalf of their loved ones.”
News of Mas’ud’s handover was applauded by family members of the victims, dozens of whom attended Syracuse University and were on their way home for Christmas break after a semester abroad.
“It was quite a moment,” said Kara Monetti Weipz, sister of victim Rick Monetti, a Syracuse University student, and the president of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103. “It was unbelievable that it was really happening after all these years, and especially after the last two years.”
Paul Hudson, whose daughter Melina was one of the victims of the attack, held up a banner of pictures of additional victims outside federal court Monday. He was joined by some family members of other victims who had long been awaiting some answers in the case as well as a chance to stare down a man accused of killing their loved ones.
Victoria Cummock, the widow of passenger John Cummock and the Founder & CEO of the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie Legacy Foundation held a press conference in Miami Monday to praise the latest development.
In a statement provided to The Post, Cummock said the criminal proceedings were “the first tangible step” to getting justice for the mass murders in US courts.
“On behalf of my family and my organization’s members, I want to express our gratitude to President Biden, a Syracuse University alumnus, and the U.S. authorities for putting actions behind their pledges,” Cummock’s statement read.
“Hopefully, this significant 1st step will begin to address the 3+ decades-long, miscarriage of justice. Our wish is for criminal trial proceedings to begin immediately. The victim’s families are keenly aware that after 34 years, informants and witnesses die, memories fade, and evidence can deteriorate or disappear.”
With Post wires
The post Lockerbie bombing suspect whines about the flu during first court appearance, won’t face death penalty appeared first on New York Post.