French airliner attack relatives want Koussa hearing

PARIS (Reuters) – Former Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa should be questioned over a 1989 airliner bombing in Niger that killed 170 people including 54 French nationals, relatives of the victims said on Friday.

In a statement, families of those aboard the UTA DC10 flight asked the French prosecutor’s anti-terrorism office to question Koussa, saying he could provide new information on the case after having defected and arriving in Britain on Wednesday.

Koussa, also the former spy chief for Muammar Gaddafi, parted ways with the Libyan leader over what an associate of Koussa’s called Gaddafi’s attacks on civilians in a six-week-old conflict with rebels.

“Moussa Koussa could have new revelations on the bombing carried out by Libya that could lead to the discovery of new people involved,” an association for families of passengers on the doomed plane said in a statement.

Separately, Scottish authorities said on Thursday they wanted to interview Koussa over the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie that killed 270 people.

Six Libyans were convicted in absentia by a Paris court in 1999 to life imprisonment for the UTA bombing. They included Gaddafi’s brother-in-law Abdullah Sanusi, the country’s head of military intelligence. Koussa was a witness at the trial.

The Paris prosecutor did not immediately comment on the relatives’ statement.

According to the original French findings, Libyan intelligence services carried out the attack by planting a bomb in the suitcases of one of the passengers.

In 2004, France agreed to lift international sanctions on Libya after the Gaddafi Foundation committed to paying $1 million in compensation to the families of the victims.

(Reporting by John Irish and Thierry Leveque; editing by Mark Heinrich)

French airliner attack relatives want Koussa hearing