French Plan to Charge Two Libyans for 1989 Bombing of French Airliner

An investigating magistrate is reportedly about to issue warrants for the arrest of two high-ranking Libyan officials in connection with the destruction of a French airliner and the deaths of all 170 people aboard over the African desert on Sept. 19, 1989.

Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, convinced Libyans masterminded the terrorist act, was reported ready to issue warrants for Mussa Kussa, Libya’s vice minister for foreign affairs, and Abdallah Senussi, the No. 2 man of its secret service.

There have been angry objections by the Libyan authorities and warnings from Tripoli that “appropriate steps” would be taken if France formally accused Libya in the disaster.

The French Foreign Ministry also clearly is not happy with Bruguiere’s pursuit of the case. But the judge has vowed to “go all the way.”

A suitcase containing a time bomb is believed to have been put aboard the UTA airliner at Brazzaville, Congo, before it left on a flight to Paris. Congolese opposition groups backed by Libya are held responsible.

The plane blew up over the Tenere desert. Bodies and debris were scattered over 24 square miles. But French investigators managed to retrieve every splinter. A study of the wreckage, which was reassembled in Paris, led to Bruguiere’s conclusions.

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