Megrahi 'lost' in Libya chaos

2011-08-26 09:04
London - Scottish officials are trying to get in touch with Libyan rebel leaders as part of efforts to resume contact with the Lockerbie bomber lost in the "dust of battle", Scotland's justice secretary said on Thursday.

Former Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, was released from a Scottish jail two years ago on compassionate grounds and flown back to Libya after being diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and given three months to live.

He was required to submit regular medical reports and check in through telephone calls to East Renfrewshire Council from his home in Libya as part of the licence terms of his release.

The council is trying to make direct contact with Megrahi, while the Scottish government is trying to get in touch with the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) so Megrahi will be able to abide by his conditions, it said.

"We're entering into communications. These matters are difficult, but we're seeking to make sure that we lock on to the authorities," Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill told reporters in Edinburgh.

"But at the present moment there is some doubt as to just which parts of Tripoli are controlled by whom. So, we seek to enter into discussions with the appropriate authorities.

"East Renfrewshire council officials are trying to contact Megrahi, but Tripoli and Libya is a war zone and until the dust of battle settles I think we have to allow them to continue to make the efforts that they're doing."

Embarrassment to UK government

Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of playing a "significant part in planning and perpetrating" the bombing of the airliner over the Scottish border town of Lockerbie. The attack killed 270 people, including 189 American citizens. In a special court which sat in the Netherlands, Scottish judges sentenced Megrahi to life in prison with a minimum jail term of 27 years.

His release angered the United States, and his return to a hero's welcome in Libya was an embarrassment to the British government. Megrahi's survival has raised questions about the medical advice that led to his being freed, and for US politicians and victims' relatives to call for his extradition to the United States.

He was last in touch with the council on August 8, and the council has been trying to renew contact since Monday, without success.

On Wednesday, Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he would like to see Megrahi put back in jail after the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. 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 following devolution in 1999.

"Mr Megrahi is a Scottish prisoner. He's been released on licence in terms of the law that applies in Scotland," MacAskill added.

"There are obligations that go with him being a Scottish prisoner released on licence. But whilst we're in a war zone, which is accepted by everybody, I think we need to wait and see what happens there."

Read more on:    david cameron  |  muammar gaddafi  |  nick clegg  |  scotland  |  libya  |  libya protests  |  north africa  |  uprisings  |  lockerbie bombing

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.