Diplomatic and Military Affairs

Lockerbie bomber to stay in Libya

Updated: 2011-08-30 08:15

By Jodie Ginsberg (China Daily)

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 Lockerbie bomber to stay in Libya

A rebel fighter jumps from a T-55 tank in Misrata on Monday. Rebels said they had seized about 150 tanks from a military base near Misrata and prepared to use them as part of a possible operation to take control over the central Libyan city of Sirte, Muammar Gadhafi's last remaining stronghold. Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

LONDON - Scotland said on Monday it had no plans to request the extradition of the Libyan convicted of the 1988 bombing of a US-bound airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was found guilty of bombing Pan Am flight 103 while en route from London to New York on Dec 21, 1988.

A total of 270 people were killed in the bombing.

Megrahi was sentenced to life imprisonment in Scotland, but released two years ago on compassionate grounds and returned to Libya because he was suffering from advanced terminal prostate cancer and thought to have just a few months to live.

His release infuriated some politicians in the United States - home to many of the bombing victims - and the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi prompted hopes among some that Libya's new leaders could allow Megrahi's extradition.

However, Libya's National Transitional Council said on Sunday it had no intention of agreeing to any such request, and Scotland has no plans to make one.

"At the present moment the only people with any authority in this matter are the Scottish government ... and the new Libyan Transitional Council," Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond told Sky News.

"We have never had, and do not have, any intention of asking for the extradition of Mr Megrahi," he added.

Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said he would like to see Megrahi back in jail. Prime Minister David Cameron, who took office in May 2010, has called the release a mistake.

However, Scotland has responsibility for its own legal system.

"Perhaps if we all followed due process of law as the Scottish government has done and ceased the international politicking around this, then we could all be in a much better place," Salmond said in Monday's interview, in a barely veiled criticism of those who have attacked Megrahi's release.

"The views of American senators, of American lawyers, of the UK Foreign Secretary and of the Deputy Prime Minister have no bearing on this issue."

Salmond leads the Scottish National Party, which has run the country since 2007. Cameron's Conservatives, Clegg's Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party which governed Britain at the time of Megrahi's release all sit in opposition to the Scottish National Party in the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh.



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