Abu Agila Masud, a Libyan intelligence official recently extradited to U.S. over suspected involvement in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, will not face the death penalty as he appeared in a U.S. court.
Masud is facing multiple charges, including destruction of aircraft resulting in death. Prosecutors said at Monday’s hearing that they would not seek the death penalty and Masud could face life imprisonment if convicted.
Each of the charges he faces include a possible sentence of life in prison, the death penalty or a fine of up to $250,000. However, U.S. prosecutors told the court they would not seek death, as they believe the punishment was not legally available at the time of his alleged crime.
According to the BBC, Masud is currently seeking legal counsel, which the judge said was his right after Masud rejected the offer of free representation from the public defender’s office.
Although he is the third Libyan intelligence official charged in the U.S. in connection with the attack, Masud is the first to appear in an American courtroom for prosecution.
Charges against Masud were first announced by American authorities in December 2020. He was being held at a Libyan prison for unrelated crimes when the Justice Department unsealed the charges.
Masud, who was born in Tunisia but has Libyan citizenship, was the third person charged in the bombing. Two others, Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, were charged in 1991, but American efforts to prosecute them ran aground when Libya declined to send them to the United States or Britain to stand trial.
Instead, the Libyan government agreed to a trial in the Netherlands under Scottish law. Fhimah was acquitted and Al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 and sentenced to life in prison.