The Justice Department will not seek the death penalty against a Libyan explosives expert charged with assembling the device that blew up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, the Wall Street Journal reports. ]Abu Agila Mohammad Masud was the first suspect to appear in a U.S. court to face prosecution for one of history's deadliest terror attacks. Some Libyan officials said he was arrested illegally with the aid of militia groups that the United Nations has accused of human rights violations. Masud, bearded and wearing a green jail uniform, appeared in a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday called the arrest and November indictment an “important step forward in our mission to honor the victims and pursue justice on behalf of their loved ones.” Prosecutors won't pursue capital punishment because Congress didn’t update the federal death-penalty law to comply with Supreme Court decisions until 1994, six years after the bombing. Authorities say Masud constructed the bomb used to destroy the commercial jetliner on Dec. 21, 1988, as it flew from London to New York. The attack killed the 243 passengers and 16 crew on board. Falling debris killed 11 more people. “It was really gratifying” to see Mr. Masud in a U.S. courtroom, said Paul Hudson, whose 16-year-old daughter, Melina, was killed in the bombing. “This is something many of us thought would never happen.”