UK played key role in Lockerbie bomber release

The report was released 22 years to
the day after a terrorist bomb exploded aboard  the Pan Am airliner
killing 270 people — including 189 Americans — in one of the deadliest acts of
domestic terrorism prior to 9/11.

The report-title “Justice Undone:
The Release of the Lockerbie Bomber”- finds that senior officials under former
British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown quietly and repeatedly
pressured Scottish authorities to release Abdel Baset Ali al-al-Megrahi, the
former Libyan intelligence officer convicted of the bombing.

They did so in order to protect
British business interests in Libya, including a $900 million BP oil deal that
the Libyans had threatened to cut off, as well as a $165 million arms sale with
a British defence firm that was signed the same month al-Megrahi was freed from
prison, the report states. 

The report also concludes that, in
releasing Megrahi last year on the grounds that he was suffering from terminal
prostate cancer and had only three months to live, Scottish authorities relied
on a “false” and “flawed” medical prognosis that was possibly
influenced by a doctor hired by the Libyan government. (Although there were
recent reports that Megrahi was in a coma, that account has been disputed. As
the Senate report notes, he remains alive, reportedly living in a luxury villa
in Tripoli.) 

The Senate report calls for a
renewed investigation into Megrahi’s release by the State Department and a
public apology by both the British and Scottish governments.

That request was rejected this week
by both British and Scottish officials. “We totally reject their false
interpretation,” a Scottish government spokesperson said.

“The decision to release Megrahi
“was not based on political, economic or diplomatic considerations, but on
the precepts of Scots law and nothing else.”

Martin Longden, a spokesman for the
British Embassy in Washington, said that, since the Scottish government
ultimately released Megrahi that “it is difficult to see how one can
apologize for something that one wasn’t responsible for.”

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